Segregated education

Diversity Magazine has an article about the recent Supreme Court decision on it, End of an Era? starts with

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday issued a 5-4 ruling against voluntary-integration plans in K-12 public-school districts in Louisville, Ky. and Seattle, Wash. that use race as a factor to prevent segregation in student assignments. These cases were among the most publicly watched of the court’s 2006-2007 term and were the final decisions the court rendered before taking recess until Oct. 1.

and quotes Judge Stephen Breyer

“In doing so, it distorts precedent, it misapplies the relevant constitutional principles, it announces legal rules that will obstruct efforts by state and local governments to effectively deal with the growing re-segregation of public schools … and it undermines Brown’s promise of integrated primary and secondary education that local communities have sought to make a reality. This cannot be justified in the name of the Equal Protection Clause… And what of law’s concern to diminish and peacefully settle conflict among the Nation’s people? Instead of accommodating different good-faith visions of our country and our Constitution, today’s holding upsets settled expectations, creates legal uncertainty, and threatens to produce considerable further litigation, aggravating race-related conflict.”

And the WaPo has as well an article about it, simply describing the procedures and pointing to Breyer’s dissent:

Segregationist policies, Breyer said, didn’t simply tell black children where they could go to school but “perpetuated a caste system rooted in the institutions of slavery and 80 years of legalized subordination.”

And the NYTimes chimes in as well:

“It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much,” Justice Breyer said. In his written opinion, Justice Breyer said the decision was a “radical” step away from settled law and would strip local communities of the tools they need, and have used for many years, to prevent resegregation of their public schools. Predicting that the ruling would “substitute for present calm a disruptive round of race-related litigation,” he said, “This is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret.”

Judge Breyer, in his dissent (PDF), points out the motivation for the school practices:

They do not impose burdens unfairly upon members of one race alone but instead seek benefits for members of all races alike. The context here is one of racial limits that seek, not to keep the races apart, but to bring them together.

He finishes his dissent with

Finally, what of the hope and promise of Brown? For much of this Nation’s history, the races remained divided.It was not long ago that people of different races drank from separate fountains, rode on separate buses, and studied in separate schools. In this Court’s finest hour, Brown v. Board of Education challenged this history and helped to change it. For Brown held out a promise. It was a promise embodied in three Amendments designed tomake citizens of slaves. It was the promise of true racialequality—not as a matter of fine words on paper, but as amatter of everyday life in the Nation’s cities and schools.It was about the nature of a democracy that must work forall Americans. It sought one law, one Nation, one people,not simply as a matter of legal principle but in terms ofhow we actually live.
68
PARENTS INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS v.
SEATTLE SCHOOL DIST. NO. 1
BREYER, J., dissenting
Not everyone welcomed this Court’s decision in Brown. Three years after that decision was handed down, the Governor of Arkansas ordered state militia to block the doors of a white schoolhouse so that black children could not enter. The President of the United States dispatchedthe 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas, and federal troops were needed to enforce a desegregation decree. See Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U. S. 1 (1958). Today,almost 50 years later, attitudes toward race in this Nationhave changed dramatically. Many parents, white and black alike, want their children to attend schools with children of different races. Indeed, the very school districts that once spurned integration now strive for it. The long history of their efforts reveals the complexities anddifficulties they have faced. And in light of those challenges, they have asked us not to take from their handsthe instruments they have used to rid their schools of racial segregation, instruments that they believe are needed to overcome the problems of cities divided by race and poverty. The plurality would decline their modest request.
The plurality is wrong to do so. The last half-centuryhas witnessed great strides toward racial equality, but wehave not yet realized the promise of Brown. To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown. The plurality’s position, I fear, would break that promise. This is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret.
I must dissent.

Finally, in Democracy Now,

Well, first of all, Thurgood Marshall would be turning in his grave if he could read the opinions of the court that were handed down yesterday by the five justices in the majority.

I don’t express this well, but there was an article (check this newspiece), that expressed this the best: The SCOTUS decision mirrors a country that denies the fact that inequality exists, that racial discrimination is rampant and hurtful, and points slightly to a new America, where social divisions occur both on wealth, knowledge and race. Quoting Judge Breyer, it is a decision that America will regret.

Posted in Politics, Society

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