In a frontal assault to Brown v Board of Education — the landmark case that desegregated schools — the Supreme Court handed down this morning a 5-4 ruling that requires the elimination of integration plans at elementary and secondary public schools. “Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision on behalf of the majority shows a shocking disregard of and disrespect for the civil rights movement and decades of work and activism to achieve racial justice,” Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal said.
The decision was made in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, et al. and Meredith, Custodial Parent and Next Friend of McDonald v. Jefferson County Bd. Of Ed et al, two cases brought by parents with schoolchildren in Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky. Federal appeals courts previously upheld integration plans in both school systems after parents sued. The Bush administration threw its political weight behind the parents.
Schools in Jefferson County, KY have spent decades under a court order designed to remove the effects of state-sponsored segregation. Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson responded to the decision by saying he is “disappointed the court has struck down a plan that for more than 30 years has helped provide a quality education for all students and broken down racial barriers to move our community forward,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “There is a cruel irony in The Chief Justice’s reliance on our decision in Brown v. Board of Education… The Chief Justice rewrites the history of one of this Court’s most important decisions.” Justice Stevens, who has served on the Supreme Court longer than any other current justice, concluded his dissent, writing, “It is my firm conviction that no Member of the Court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today’s decision.”