Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Tearing Brown from its Historical Roots"

In a June 24 LA Times Op-Ed, Edward Lazarus anticipated that, in deciding the school segregation cases, the Court would: "read Brown not as mandating integration, or even as neutral on the point, but as affirmatively prohibiting voluntary measures to achieve integration if they involve race-conscious government action."

With tomorrow's opinion, the very meaning of Brown vs. Board, widely regarded as the most important case of the 20th century, is at stake. Lazarus explains:

"Under Roberts' [likely] reinterpretation of Brown, the decision's central message is that government must be strictly 'colorblind' because all racial classification is inherently pernicious. In this view, there is no legal or moral difference between a school assignment program (like those at issue in Brown) that enforces racial segregation and others (like Seattle's and Louisville's) that are designed to ensure some measure of integration."

Thus, "By flipping Brown from a decision outlawing racial exclusion into one outlawing racial inclusion, it would place the court's powerful moral and legal force behind the idea that the abstraction of colorblindness is of greater constitutional value than the ideal of racial diversity."

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