Thursday, June 28, 2007

Louisville Courier Journal: "Thwarting Equity"

The Louisville Courier Journal's editorial eloquently expresses that community's disappointment in today's decision and its determination to continue the struggle for integration. The passages below are stirring:

"Faced with a choice between continuing or ending Jefferson County’s opportunity-enhancing, popularly supported and nationally acclaimed plan for keeping its once-segregated schools racially integrated and equitable, the Court chose, 5-to-4, to end it.

In doing so, the majority declared unconstitutional the very same race-conscious assignment practices that its civil-rights minded predecessors had deemed constitutionally necessary.

It declared impermissible the very same achievement of integration that those earlier jurists had so wisely required, with such profoundly gratifying results for our society.

As a result, the near total racial isolation and educational despair that pervade so many American cities today are considered constitutionally just; the racial diversity and educational opportunity that Jefferson County has voluntarily and proudly attained are rejected as constitutionally unjust.

A more bitter or unjustified blow is hard to conceive.

The only thing worse would be for people of good will here to stagger under that blow and give up.

What we have gained for our children and for our community’s social health is far too important to lose, and despite the callous, ideological lockstep of this decision, there remains a glimmer of hope.

School authorities may still “find a way to achieve the compelling interests they face without resorting to widespread governmental allocation of benefits and burdens on the basis of racial classification.”

That is precisely the challenge that the school board, its new superintendent and federal District Court Judge John G. Heyburn must accept and meet.

Other means must be found to preserve both the diversity and choice that families of both races value so highly. Simply returning to segregated neighborhood schools would sacrifice far too much of both.

As Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the stirring minority dissent, “This is a decision the Court and the Nation will come to regret.”

The same shouldn’t be said of our response."

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