The Supreme Court decided 5-4 today that students can no longer be sorted into schools based only upon their race, which is what school systems in Seattle and Louisville had been doing. They were assigning students into specific schools based upon one criteria: race. This decision makes perfect sense to those who hold the individual above the collective. From the New York Times:
In a decision of sweeping importance to educators, parents and schoolchildren across the country, the Supreme Court today sharply limited the ability of school districts to manage the racial makeup of the student bodies in their schools.
The court voted, 5 to 4, to reject diversity plans from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., declaring that the districts had failed to meet “their heavy burden” of justifying “the extreme means they have chosen — discriminating among individual students based on race by relying upon racial classifications in making school assignments,” as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court.
The school systems claimed this racial organization was done for the purpose of maintaining a “balance of diversity.” When it becomes more important to maintain a balance than to focus on the needs of individual students, the whole then becomes more important than its parts. In other words, collectivism. Telling individual students that they cannot attend a particular school because their presence would upset the equilibrium of races (the collective) is offensive.
Proponents of these “integration” plans insist that today’s decision will take us back to the days before Brown versus Board of Education. Ludicrous. Brown was decided because segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, and today’s decision was made based upon the same standards. Even though integration practices swung in the extreme opposite direction of segregation, it still violated the Equal Protection Clause because it denied students the access to schools.
Justice Breyer, however, thought the Constitution, particularly the Fourteenth Amendment, had no relevance here.
The four dissenters wrote, in effect, that the majority was standing history on its head. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that today’s result “threatens to substitute for present calm a disruptive round of race-related litigation, and it undermines Brown’s promise of integrated primary and secondary education that local communities have sought to make a reality.”
“This cannot be justified in the name of the Equal Protection Clause,” Justice Breyer went on, alluding to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which bars states from denying people “the equal protection of the laws.”
Those who are familiar with Justice Breyer’s judicial philosophy know that he doesn’t actually believe in ruling based upon the Constitution; instead he considers the purposes and the consequences of a law or activity. In other words, activities like these schools’ integration policies can be blatantly unconstitutional, which they are since they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, and that would be of no importance to him. Instead he only considers the consequences of striking down a law versus upholding it. So how does Justice Breyer protect and uphold the Constitution if he doesn’t factor what the Constitution says into his decisions?
Update: The Democratic presidential candidates are seizing on this ruling for political purposes, insisting that it is a reversal of Brown v Board of Education, which is about as far from the truth as anyone can get. Just like today’s ruling, Brown v Board of Education stopped the process of sorting children into specific schools based only upon race because it denied students equal access. Before 1954, black children were forced to attend black-only schools while white children went to white-only schools. Before today’s ruling, children in the Seattle and Louisville school systems were sorted into schools based only upon race, too. The only difference between the two was that before Brown the goal was to separate the races at the detriment of equality; before today’s ruling the goal was to integrate the races at the detriment of equality. The Democrats don’t seem to understand the law: it doesn’t matter if the goal is to separate or to integrate. If students are not getting equal protection of the law, the policy is unconstitutional. Today’s ruling doesn’t reverse Brown; it reinforces it.