Those fighting to ban race-based admission policies in public schools and colleges won a big victory today. The Supreme Court just struck down Seattle and Kentucky school districts' practice of matching students to schools by race. For years, hundreds of kids have been denied admission to schools of their choice in their own neighborhood in favor of worse ones much further away. Why? Because their skin tone threatened to disrupt the delicate racial balance district authorities were trying to achieve.
The court's 5-4 decision in these cases effectively reversed its ruling three years ago when it gave the University of Michigan's race-based admission policies a thumbs' up. Outraged Michigan voters last year overturned that decision when they overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative spearheaded by black California businessman Ward Connerly to ban the use of race in government admission and hiring. Connerly is launching similar petition drives in five more states in time for the 2008 November elections.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing the majority opinion in the Kentucky and Seattle cases, noted that school authorities had failed to meet the heavy burden of demonstrating why such race-based policies were necessary. "The best way to stop discrimination by race," he said, "is to stop discriminating by race."
Here are the links to Reason's coverage of the Michigan ballot initiative:
And here is the Wall Street Journal story of the latest Supreme Court ruling: