Dallas Black Blog

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National Black Law Students Reject Supreme Court School Case Rationale on Race Plans

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Thursday, August 23, 2007

June 30, 2007

For Immediate Release:

(WASHINGTON, DC June 28, 2007) — In an unfortunate 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the race conscious integration plans of Seattle and Louisville public schools, deeming them unconstitutional. While studies have consistently shown the benefits of racially diverse classrooms in all stages of education, the Supreme Court’s ruling seems counterintuitive considering this nation’s history as well as the growing racial and ethnic composition of our country.

The Supreme Court found the race conscious plans of Seattle and Louisville unconstitutional because they were not narrowly tailored to take race into account to the minimum extent necessary. In both of these school districts, race was used as a tiebreaker in determining which school a student will attend in order to achieve a diverse student population. As we stand here in front of the Supreme Court today, this case reflects a period where the Supreme Court is intellectually dishonest concerning the problems of race in America.

This decision’s message is similar to Plessy v. Ferguson; embarrassing our nation and tacitly ignoring issues of racial injustice in facilities. It is imperative for our generation to mobilize on these issues as we have the unique challenge to discern a less overt and elusive form of Jim Crow’s legacy, said Eddie L. Koen Jr., National Chair of the National Black Law Students Association. With the ongoing attempts by the American Bar Association to modify accreditation evaluations for law schools, in addition to the composition of the Court, we are in danger of witnessing a disparate impact for the enrollment of not only black law students, but K-12 schools all over the country.

The two school districts, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, have failed to provide the necessary support for the proposition that there is no other way than individual racial classifications to avoid racial isolation in their school districts.” Moreover, the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race . . . The reasoning applied by the Chief Justice that ignoring race will rectify the issues of unequal access to educational institutions was a unjustifiable deviance from both statistical data on school integration and Supreme Court jurisprudence going back to Brown v. Board of Education. The court ignores issues of de facto segregation and assumes color-blind policies will act as an invisible hand to magically fix the ills of our nation’s history.

Race conscious integration plans have been essential in preventing racial isolation in school districts and providing equal access to educational institutions. Justice Breyer noted in his dissenting opinion that between 1968 and 1980, the number of black children attending a school where minority children constituted more than half the children fell from 77% to 63% (81% to 57% in the south). However, this positive trend has slowly reversed since 2000. Since 2000 the figure has risen from 63% back to 77% (57% to 69% in the south). In light of these figures, the Supreme Court insists on a ruling that will only intensify the problems of racial isolation and equal access to educational institutions.

The Supreme Court’s willingness to find the Seattle and Louisville race conscious integration plans unconstitutional conflicts with decades of equal protection jurisprudence dating back to Brown v. Board of Education. In Brown, the court began remedying minorities lack of an equal opportunity to pursue an education. The decision made by the court to further restrict race conscious integration plans not only inhibits the ability of school districts to provide minorities access to equal educational institutions, it exacerbates the problems of segregation that have unjustifiably inhibited the progression of minorities in American society.

We have witnessed times in the past where the high court has rendered a bad decision. We witnessed Plessy v. Ferguson, where the court’s separate but equal doctrine provided an impetus to further segregation laws. Today, we whole-heartedly agree with Justice Breyer’s dissent, which states in part that, this is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret.

The National Black Law Students Association recognizes the severity of this case and will work to determine the full ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision. The National Black Law Student Association will continue to serve as advocates for the right of minorities to have equal access to education.

Founded in 1968, the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) is a nationwide organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of black law students and effectuates change in the legal community. As the largest student run organization in the country with over 6,000 members, NBLSA includes chapters or affiliates in six different countries including The Bahamas, Nigeria, and South Africa. NBLSA encourages the development of talented, social conscious lawyers of tomorrow.

For more information, Contact Levi Christian Pearson at communications@nblsa.org

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