Supreme Court Rejects School Race Assignment Plans Used In Some Kentucky Schools

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected school assignment plans that take account of students' race in two major public school districts. The decisions could imperil similar plans nationwide.

The rulings in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle leave public school systems with a limited arsenal to maintain racial diversity.

The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's other three liberals.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion in which he said race may be a component of school district plans designed to achieve diversity.

He agreed with Roberts that the plans in Louisville and Seattle went too far. He said, however, that to the extent that Roberts' opinion could be interpreted as foreclosing the use of race in any circumstance, "I disagree with that reasoning."

Attorney Teddy Gordon, who argued that the school system's plan was discriminatory, said it appeared that Roberts adopted similar reasoning.

"Clearly, we need better race neutral alternatives," Gordon said. "Instead of spending zillions of dollars around the country to place a black child next to a white child, let's reduce class size. All the schools are equal. We will no longer accept that an African-American majority within a school is unacceptable."

Jefferson County Public Schools spokeswoman Lauren Roberts said board members in Louisville were still reading the opinion and declined to comment immediately.

The two school systems in Thursday's decisions employ slightly different methods of taking students' race into account when determining which school they would attend.

Federal appeals courts had upheld both plans after some parents sued. The Bush administration the parents' side, arguing that racial diversity is a noble goal but can be sought only through race-neutral means.

Louisville's schools spent 25 years under a court order to eliminate the effects of state-sponsored segregation. After a federal judge freed the Jefferson County school board, which encompasses Louisville, from his supervision, the board decided to keep much of the court-ordered plan in place to prevent schools from re-segregating.

The lawyer for the Louisville system called the plan a success story that enjoys broad community support, including among parents of white and black students.

The Seattle school district said it used race as one among many factors, relied on it only in some instances and then only at the end of a lengthy process in allocating students among the city's high schools. Seattle suspended its program after parents sued.

The opinion was the first on the divisive issue since 2003, when a 5-4 ruling upheld the limited consideration of race in college admissions to attain a diverse student body. Since then, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who approved of the limited use of race, retired. Her replacement, Justice Samuel Alito was in the majority that struck down the school system plans in Kentucky and Washington.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Kelly Location: Waynesburg on Jul 1, 2007 at 07:51 PM
    Jim it is funny how you and so many others blame Bush for all he has done to ruin this country and how many terrible changes this man has doen since his time in office, if he is so powerful and done so much right or wrong, why do we as taxpayers pay the other 2500 elected officals to do nothing, or do they? what do they do all day on Capital Hill? when will you all figure out that everyone on that hill has taken a part in something right or wrong, they are our leaders and blame them all. if it all his fault then save alot of taxpayers money and fire all the republicans and democrats as they have done nothing. the good ole days have long passed now we must have the politically correct choice shoved down our throat daily on everything in life, sending a kid across town to meet a quota is nonsense, if you dont like the school in your neighborhood move to a better one, save the taxpayers dollars in fuel costs and let the few precious hours the kids have in the evenings with familys not on a bus.
  • by Greg Location: Louisville on Jun 28, 2007 at 02:01 PM
    I'm very thankful for today's ruling. We've had so much difficulty in our schools here in Louisville due to children being transported so far away from their homes. It’s been a shame to have to bus children 50 to 60 minutes (or longer) across town because some race quota isn’t being met. Having such a quota is among the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard of to begin with. Our children have had to pay a high price for “diversity”, at least in this scenario. Families, regardless of race, should be allowed to send their children to a school within their own neighborhoods (or at least relatively close by). I personally know children that have dreaded school every day because they’ve had to leave home at 6:00 a.m. to be transported to a bus compound, wait for half an hour, then catch another bus to take them to school. Some children are spending 8 to 10 hours a days away from home because of the transport time. That’s pretty difficult with the amount of homework that has to be done, not to mention any extra curricular activities. Again, I’m very thankful, both for this administration and the wisdom of this ruling.
  • by Glen Location: lexington on Jun 28, 2007 at 12:46 PM
    Finally! Some sanity returns to our schools. How sad that children are sent on long, inconvenient trips every day to go to school with other children that they can't easily socialize with outside the school setting just because they happen to be the "wrong" or "right" race. Come on folks, 40 years have passed since we had to force people to go to scholl together. Once we start these programs we can't get them stopped even when thy're no longer needed and do more harm then good to the children and the budget. Imagine the resources that are squandered because of the exponetially increasing school transportation costs. Those big, yellow busses are budget busters.
  • by Cathy on Jun 28, 2007 at 09:21 AM
    Sorry, I did not vote for him either time and i still have to deal with it.
  • by Jim Location: Lexington on Jun 28, 2007 at 08:45 AM
    This is what we have to look forward to for the next 20 years...turning the clocks backward to the 50's and going back to what the conservatives think were the "good 'ole days". I am sad to see such things happening within our Supreme Court, but you were the ones who voted for Bush again. Now we all must suffer for MANY years.


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