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Supreme Court Strikes Voluntary Integration Plans

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2007 that student assignment plans in Jefferson County, Kentucky and Seattle, Washington that take a student's race into consideration violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The 5-4 decision reverses rulings by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Ninth Circuits. The Court identified the issue in both cases as whether a school district that had not operated legally segregated schools or that had been found unitary may choose to classify students by race and rely upon that classification in making school assignments. The Court indicated that prior cases evaluating racial classifications in the school context have recognized two interests that qualify as sufficiently compelling to justify race-based classifications: remedying the effects of past intentional discrimination, which noted was at issue here, and the "interest in diversity in higher education"...

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