Thursday, June 28, 2007

Good Bye Brown v. Board, Hello Plessy v. Ferguson

Well the good news is that the Supreme Court’s landmark and most important decision of the 1970’s decade, Roe v. Wade, has not been overturned this week by Bush’s new neoconservative Supreme Court.

The bad news is that the Supreme Court’s landmark and most important decision of the 1950’s decade, Brown v. Board of Education, has been overturned.

In a decision handed down today, with another 5-4 split, the Supreme Court in a two-case decision, Parents Involved in Community Schools Inc. v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County (Ky.) Board of Education, school districts cannot use race as a criterion to determine which school a student can attend. This puts the kibosh on any attempt to integrate schools across the country.

So now we are back to the “separate but equal” doctrine laid out in Plessy v. Ferguson.

Ironically Chef Justice Roberts, in writing the majority opinion, relied on logic in Brown v. Board to overturn the self-same decision. Roberts argued that before Brown v. Board, black children were made to attend separate schools. That is, attendance at one school over another, depending solely on the race of the child, is bad, and so are the arrangements in Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky, which have racial quotas for attendance in some of their magnet schools.

White kids were turned away from attending their preferred school because the quota for white children had been met.

So now we have it back the way it was, and no school can cause a student to attend or not to attend a school based on their race. But that’s OK, though right? Just so that the kids get the same quality of education, right?


Roberts forgot about or outright ignored the most compelling argument in Brown v. Board, made by Chief Justice Earl Warren in a 9-0 decision: "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Values like this made the Warren Court truly great.

What a legacy for Bush’s court, for Robert’s Court.

Back to the bad old days.

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