Groups Rally to Protect Affirmative Action in High Court Cases

Advocacy groups, students, and supporters of affirmative action rallied at the Supreme Court yesterday morning as the high court considered two lawsuits on the subject. The National Organization for Women (NOW), the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the National Associate for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), and United for Equality and Affirmative Action (UEAA) gathered with thousands of demonstrators to promote the effort of primary and secondary schools to achieve racial diversity with affirmative action policies.

The cases heard by the Supreme Court yesterday, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, both challenge the legality of using affirmative action to effectively desegregate public schools. In the first case, a Seattle, Washington school board had a policy that allowed students to chose the school they would prefer to attend, but balanced admissions so as to achieve a racial balance within 10 percentage points of its overall enrollment, the Chicago Tribune reports. In the second case, the school board in Jefferson County, Kentucky considered race when assigning students to schools so as to have an African American enrollment between 15 and 50 percent of the entire student body.

According to the AP, CNN, and the Chicago Tribune, five of the nine Supreme Court justices seem to lean towards the elimination of race-based programs that aim to achieve integrated school populations. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, along with Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, and Stephen Breyer, appeared to be more sympathetic to affirmative action programs and the importance of racially balanced schools. Said Justice Bader Ginsburg of the necessity of such programs, “It’s very hard for me to see how you can have a racial objective but a non-racial means to get there,” CNN reports.
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Rainbow PUSH release 11/27/06; NOW release 11/29/06; CNN 12/4/06; Chicago Tribune 12/5/06; Washington Post 12/5/06; AP 12/5/06

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