June 29, 2007

Court Ruling Offers Paradigm Shift, Not All Buying It

The Roberts court made its first stamp on the volatile area of race relations yesterday in ruling that most state education plans that considers race as a basis of assignment are unconstitutional. Critics have howled that the court has thrown back desegregation efforts by decades, while supporters wonder why it took so long for a court to apply the Fourteenth Amendment.

There are two issues here that compete with each other in an ironic manner. The American people want a color-blind society, but the abject failure of the federal government to enforce the 14th Amendment for 100 years created the problems we face now. At Heading Right, I take a look at the competing interests, and why government intervention of the kind ruled unconstitutional yesterday hasn't delivered -- and what direction we should try next. (via Memeorandum)


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Comments (4)

Posted by Lew | June 29, 2007 8:19 AM

It is all very well and good that the Chief Justice should make the point that doing something good for some group because of its race, is just as racist as doing something bad to the same group because of its race. This is a notion long overdue for debate, because we don't seem to be able to see that one course of action is simply the other side of the coin from the other. I suppose one could call it "negative" and "positive" racism, or "benevolent" and "malevolent" racism or some other such duality. The point is that no matter what modifier you put in front of it, its still racism and its still stupid and pointless and unjust.

The other point that always comes up in the discussion ever since the University of Michigan case, is the doctrine of "Compelling State Interest". In effect, hasn't the Court now arrogated to itself alone the power to decide not only what the Constitution means but even when it can be ignored? And if this is the case, then hasn't the Court now assumed at least a quasi-legislative role for itself? In fact, I would assert that if we put the University of Michigan case alongside the Griswold decision, that the Court has taken upon itself the power to throw aside any limit to its discretion at all. It can not only manufacture rights out of thin air, but it can decide when other rights might be conveniently ignored. In short, the Court is no longer bound by the Constitution. Or perhaps more accurately, the Court is no longer bound!

This does NOT look like a co-equal branch of government to me!

Posted by km | June 29, 2007 9:03 AM

We can not get to a "color blind" society as long a racism is writen onto the law.

Calling something negative or positive is just spin and phrasing games with no substance (i.e. giving academic advantages to some races is the same thing as denying them to others).

If "disadvantaged" people need help, set up programs based upon the disadvantage - poor blacks should be benefitted the same as poor whites or asians (or whatever). Similarly, those blacks who have acheieved middle or upper clas status should get no more (or less) advantage than those of the same strata regardless of race. Whoever is on the bottom of the pile can be aided on that basis (and thus aid would go to whoever needs it without overbraodness, and without further fueling racism).

Posted by Tim K | June 29, 2007 9:18 AM

This would have been an historic decision IF Roberts' opinion had been for the majority, instead of for a plurality. As it is, Kennedy's decision becomes the rule of law to be followed by lower courts in future cases. And Kennedy's decision is a far cry from the blow against racial balancing by school district that Roberts' decision would be.

Posted by Labamigo | June 29, 2007 9:57 AM

Kennedy's opinion is no help at all. It provides virtually no direction as to what is legal and what is not. Lower courts and the public are left right where we started. Sometimes, in some situations, in some places, it is OK to use some racial considerations when trying to solve some problems. But not always!!!