New York Law School

Archive for July, 2007

A Return to Segregated Education

The controversy surrounding social equalization and economic reparative measures such as affirmative action and other methods of achieving racial integration have been persistent areas of debate for countless decades. On June 28, 2007, in a ruling of much anticipation, the United States Supreme Court added more fuel to the already incendiary discourse. The cases Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No.1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Bd. of Education (consolidated as Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No.1) involved separate challenges by parents who argued that the positive and voluntary integration schemes of school districts, in Jefferson County, Kentucky and Seattle, Washington, violated their children’s rights. Prior to the ruling of the Supreme Court, the lower federal courts upheld the plans and many school districts across the country had similar plans in place to promote racial diversity. However, on the last day of Court’s term, the Supreme Court, in a fragmented opinion held that racial integration was not a compelling enough state interest to allow for the classifications of ones race ultimately to determine his/her entrance or conversely his/her denial of entry into specific public schools. Chief Justice Roberts, finishing out his first term on the bench, authored the ultimate opinion of the Court to which Justices Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy joined. Roberts’s complete notion that race should never be used to attain diversity in public schools was not endorsed by all members of the majority, resulting in a non-binding plurality opinion written by Roberts. Justice Kennedy, the holdout of the majority bloc, wrote a lone concurring opinion that would allow for race to be considered in certain circumstance where the use of race is narrowly tailored to the state government’s interests. Read more