June 28, 2007
In a five to four decision, the Supreme Court rejected affirmative action
plans in two states that make race a factor in assigning students to public schools.
This was the biggest school de-segregation case in more than a decade. Parents from Louisville and Seattle challenged the way their school systems used race to assign students to elementary and secondary schools for the purpose of integration.
In Louisville, there is a target black enrollment in every public school.
The system is designed to keep each school between fifteen and fifty percent black. Supporters of the plan argue, it guarantees diversity.
"It's working and it's also representative of the country and the world we live in"said school principal Robert Wagner.
But a majority of the justices disagreed. The court's opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, says 'government action dividing people by race is inherently suspect.'
When the case was argued in December, justices Kennedy and Scalia questioned whether it is constitutional to classify students by race, for any reason. Attorneys for the parents said the use of race was wrong.
"It was the factor, the controlling, dominant, predominant factor. it's racial balancing" said attorney Teddy Gordon.
Thursday's decision by the high court could affect similar plans in hundreds of school districts nationwide, and it leaves administrators with a limited number of options to maintain racial diversity in their schools.
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