Thursday, June 28, 2007

the SCOTUS: recent decisions and what it means

Justices Limit Use of Race in Placement of Students - New York Times

if you haven't been paying attention to recent rulings by the SCOTUS (supreme court of the united states) then you're missing out on some good stuff.

today the archconservative majority decided to severely limit:
"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.”

what does that basically mean? it means that the court stupendously just struck down voluntary integrations programs in louisville and seattle. in other words, the court just told us that if school districts want to redress racial discrimination, they can't use RACE as a factor in that remedy.

scott lemieux, over at Lawyers Guns & Money, gives an always readable and succinct parsing of this decision. an exerpt:

"Nothing in the text of the Constitution compels these programs to be struck down. Essentially, Roberts's plurality opinion rests on the assertion that racial classifications intended to perpetuate a caste system should be considered the precise legal equivalent of racial classifications intended to remedy segregation. This is exceptionally unpersuasive, and also makes it almost impossible to actually remedy the ongoing de facto segregation of American school systems, much of which has roots in various forms of state discrimination (not just formal apartheid in the South, but the drawing of arbitrary school district lines to create segregated systems, local ordinances encouraging residential segregation, etc.) As Breyer says, "This context is not a context that involves the use of race to decide who will receive goods or services that are normally distributed on the basis of merit and which are in short supply. It is not one in which race-conscious limits stigmatize or exclude; the limits at issue do not pit the races against each other or otherwise significantly exacerbate racial tensions. They do not impose burdens unfairly upon members of one race alone but instead seek benefits for members of all races alike. The context here is one of racial limits that seek, not to keep the races apart, but to bring them together." To compare what these cities are doing to states that maintained apartheid is historically blinkered and morally untenable."

people, people, people.
if it's not clear now, i don't know when it will ever be clear: who sits on the SCOTUS is extremely important . this whole asinine, topsy-turvy interpretation of precedent and the law is the direct result of democrats caving during the roberts and alito confirmations.

when the next seat becomes free, i want the dems to skirmish to the death. to the death!
the fabric of our country depends on it. (not to overstate things too much.)

what else has the SCOTUS decided this year?

well, they tanked women's reproductive rights with their ruling on Gonzalez v. Carhart
they tanked fighting workplace discrimination with their ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear
they crapped on free speech with Morse v. Frederick
(but they also tanked illegal recruiting practices disguised as free speech in Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association v. Brentwood Academy - go figure)
they thumbed their noses at church/state separation with Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation

however, last year, they did give the POTUS the finger when they ruled the bush administration couldn't try Gitmo detainees before military commissions.

[update: feministing has a similar round up on their site - ha ha! great minds!]


Anonymous said...

i know, i am so speechless and angry at the recent slew of decisions handed down, but this one just takes the cake. we are all so screwed...

ding said...

so so so screwed.
seeing the collection of all their decisions this term is really a learning experience: consistently they have favored big business, the status quo and suppressing women, poor folks and others who aren't in big business.

it's going to be fascinating, in about 20 years, to see how the crows come home to roost because of these decisions. i can only hope that i'll be too stoned in my Gen X retirement home to notice.