Questions Concerning Supreme Court Ruling Against Using Race for Admission

Two school districts in Kentucky, Seattle and Jefferson County, have been under the microscope lately for lawsuits that opposed the use of race in determining a student’s school placement.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that race should not be used in determining which school a student attends.

So why did the Supreme Court rule against the schools?
The United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 against the use of race in school admission plans. The Court felt that the school districts had taken too extreme measure to achieve racial balance in its schools. According to Chief Justice Roberts, the school districts could not show that they had tried any other means to achieve their goal of racial balance. The only plan that had been in place or practiced was the system of classifying students by race.

What happens now?
Justice Kennedy left some lead way when he concluded that it was not right to say that race should never be used in a school’s plan. The decision made on Thursday is solely placed on kindergarten through twelfth grade public schools. The Court is unclear how the ruling will affect policies such as admission to magnet schools. However, school districts may not group students by race for purposes of admission to schools. Schools may use race to track their enrollment.

How were the plans of Seattle and Jefferson County challenged in court?
Parents opposed the plans of the two schools. The parents filed that the school plans were in violation of the Constitutional Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

In 2000, Seattle’s policy was questioned by several white families because their children were not allowed to attend the local high school of choice. Several black families then joined the white families. The families took their case to the federal appeals court. The court ruled in favor of the school saying that its plan was tailored to achieve racial diversity.

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