Tuesday, February 9, 2010

overturning the historic Brown vs. Board of Education?

Activist justices target diversity
July 3,2007
BY JESSE JACKSON jjackson@rainbowpush.org
A quarrelsome claque of five right-wing justices on the Supreme Court of the United States has abandoned the court's historic commitment to integration. These arrogant men scorned judicial precedent -- overturning the historic Brown vs. Board of Education without having the honor to admit it -- and ignored both history and today's reality. Outlawing voluntary local school district efforts to increase diversity in the schools, the court imposed court-ordered resegregation. Once more, men in robes stand in the schoolhouse door, only this time their robes are black, not white.
Where the court once spoke with one voice on ending segregation in schools, new Chief Justice John Roberts was willing to summon merely the right-wing rump of the court to overturn 50 years of precedent, decades of struggle and simple common sense.

Roberts argues that a country with a history of slavery, of segregation and of ingrained discrimination has no compelling interest in diversity, which he burlesques as "racial balancing." He dismisses racial diversity as a "verbal formulation."

Roberts argues that the court's ruling in Brown ended the day when "schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin." This reveals a stunning divorce from reality. The court's historic ruling in Brown outlawed segregated schools, but was met with massive resistance. Decade after decade, courts had to step in to force school boards to end legally enforced segregation. How did the courts know that the school boards were in violation? Because they counted -- they "used race" as a factor in determining reality. Now the court says that is unconstitutional.

Stunningly, the court's right-wing gang strikes down voluntary plans devised by conscientious school boards to increase diversity in schools. In the case of Louisville, a court-ordered plan was dissolved. The school board chose to continue something similar. According to the gang of five, what was constitutionally mandated when ordered by the court became constitutionally offensive when adopted voluntarily by the local school board. In Seattle, a concerned school board, understanding the importance of diverse schools, adopted its own plan. The right-wing rump of the court orders it to cease and desist from seeking integration.

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