Supreme Court Ends Race Discrimination in School District

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Washington, D.C., June 28, 2007— The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a race-based student assignment policy used by a Seattle school district. 

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“While the Court’s decision authorizes the use of race to remedy past intentional discrimination, it cuts back on earlier cases that allowed the use of race to remedy unintentional discrimination,” explains Hans Bader, CEI legal counsel.


In Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, the school district had argued that its decision to use race was entitled to deference from the Court—that is, a presumption of correctness.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had agreed, but the Supreme Court today overruled it. 


CEI argued that the school district was not entitled to deference, because, among other reasons, it had made outrageous statements on its website regarding racial matters, statements that also contradict its explanations in court briefs on why it used race.  For example, on its website, the district previously stated “emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology” amounts to “cultural racism.”


Two opinions, one by Chief Justice Roberts and one by Justice Thomas, rely on the school district’s website material that CEI’s amicus brought to the Court’s attention. Justice Thomas’s concurrence (at pg. 35-36, fn. 30) describes the bizarre claims on that website, noting that “the racial theories endorsed by the Seattle school board should cause the dissenters to question whether local school boards should be entrusted with the power to make decisions on the basis of race …”  In contrast, the dissenting judges contended they would have deferred to the school district..


Read the full statement by Hans Bader

Read the amicus brief

Hans Bader bio & publications