Thursday, June 28, 2007

MALDEF Condemns Narrow Supreme Court Ruling

Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) condemned the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling overturning circuit court decisions that allowed the limited use of race in voluntary school integration plans. Ruling against plans by the Seattle, Washington and Jefferson County, Kentucky public schools, " a fractured majority of the U.S. Supreme Court deprived Latino children - and all American children - the hope of quality education in a diverse environment to prepare them for the 21st century," stated John TrasviƱa, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "Four Justices, led by Chief Justice Roberts, have turned their backs on the promise of Brown v. Board of Education and held that achieving racial diversity in public schools is not a compelling government interest and is never constitutionally sound.

MALDEF submitted a brief to the Court in support of the limited use of race in voluntary local school integration plans. MALDEF's brief was joined by 16 Latino organizations urging the Court to take into account the cases' effect upon Latino students, who are more likely than other students to be enrolled in segregated public schools.

"At the same time, Justice Kennedy, the key swing vote on the current Court, held that such plans may be constitutionally sound as long as race is only one limited factor among other considerations used in making school assignments. Justice Kennedy's opinion leaves the door open for schools to consider race in a limited way to foster diversity," stated MALDEF Litigation Director Cynthia Valenzuela. "Schools should take that opportunity and design integration plans that use race as one of several factors in making school assignments."

"Our nation's public schools are more segregated than they were before the Court\'s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education," added Peter Zamora, Washington, D.C. Regional Counsel and Co-Chair of the Hispanic Education Coalition. "MALDEF will work with local school districts to reverse this disturbing trend and ensure that schools create school integration plans that reflect our national commitment to desegregation while complying with the strict constitutional limits set forth in these cases."

No comments: