Thursday, June 28, 2007


In an important decision this morning the Supreme Court ruled that school districts in Seattle and Louisville violated the Constitution when they assigned students by race. The Chief Justice, in a part of his decision which, because of Justice Kennedy, will apparently not be controlling, made an observation which any but a sophisticated legal mind would find obvious:
The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
In dissent in the Plessy case in 1896, Justice Harlan wrote:
Our constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. . .The arbitrary separation of citizens on the basis of race, while they are on a public highway, is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution. It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds.
Justice Harlan was right then and the Chief Justice is right today. Plessy notoriously sanctioned racial discrimination, and more recent decisions, in a well-intentioned desire to rectify that evil, have legitimized it again.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:23 PM

    Right on.

    I remember a situation with my middle daughter. She was having real problems with a middle school teacher--she called him a drill sergeant. After several weeks the wife an I finally asked for a conference with the teacher and the principal.

    We were surprised when the teacher, whom we'd never met, arrived and he was black. Apparently this fact was unimportant to our daughter.

    There is some hope that maybe succeeding generations will start getting it right.


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