Thursday, June 28, 2007

A good day for the law

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected two compulsory public school integration plans that forced white students to travel across their cities to achieve numerical diversity in predominantly black public schools, and vice versa, as violative of due process and equal protection. This statement from Chief Justice Roberts will carry greater weight than any legalistic or policy statements from any of the dissenters or Justice Kennedy's concurrence:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

The decision is essentially a 4-1-4 split. Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito rejected the justifications for the Seattle and Louisville school reassignment plans. The Seattle plan claimed to use race as "a" factor and only for high school assignments; the Louisville plan basically continued to implement a race-based remedy that had been imposed for past discrimination by a Federal court.

Justice Kennedy agreed to the result, but continued to promulgate the intellectually vapid notion that diversity is or could be a compelling governmental interest -- the notion propagated by Justice O'Connor in the Gratz and Grutter cases in 2003.

Justice Thomas rejected the dissenters' complaints that the majority decision violated the spirit of the landmark Brown v. Board of Educ. of Topeka, Kan. decision from 1954, which overturned the infamous "separate but equal" rationale that the Supreme Court pronounced in 1896. His riposte:

What was wrong in 1954 cannot be right today. The plans before us base school assignment decisions on students' race. Because 'our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,' such race-based decisionmaking is unconstitutional.

A good day for the law, and the Court. What a difference a justice (Alito) makes. And this term demonstrates just how important a Republican victory in the 2008 election will be -- no more Souter, Stevens or Kennedy nominees.

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