Student assignment plans determine which public schools certain children may attend.
Children are classified as white or nonwhite (or black or other).
Race classification is used to allocate slots in oversubscribed high schools and used to make certain elementary school assignments and to rule on transfer requests.
Goal is to make the racial balance at the school fall within a predetermined range based on the composition of the school district as a whole.
Seattle School District No. 1 operates 10 regular public high schools.
Student assignment plan allows incoming ninth graders to choose from among any of the district's high schools, ranking them in order of preference.
If too many students pick the same school, the officials use a tiebreaker. The first tiebreaker is if the student has a sibling at the school, but the next is based on the race of the student and the overall racial composition of the school.
Jefferson County Public Schools maintained a segregated public school system until 1975, when there was a desegregation decree.
The school operated under this decree until 2000, when it was dissolved.
After this, the school implemented the voluntary student assignment plan.
Plan requires that all non-magnet schools to maintain a minimum black enrollment of 15% and a max enrollment of 50%.
Upon enrollment, the district allows students to rank the schools.
Decisions to assign students to schools within each cluster are based on available space within the schools and the racial guidelines.
Court of appeals upheld the plan.
Can a public school that never operated legally segregated schools or that has been determined to be unitary choose to classify students by race and rely upon that classification in making school assignments?
A public school cannot classify students by race and then rely upon that classification in making school assignments.
Strict scrutiny used here: means must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.
One recognized compelling interest is remedying past discrimination.
However, Seattle schools were never segregated.
The Jefferson County schools were segregate but the District Court dissolved the desegregation degree in 2000.
Once JC reached unitary status, it had remedied the constitutional wrong that allowed race-based assignments. Therefore, their use of race must be justified on some other basis.
Second recognized interest is the interest in diversity in higher education upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger.
This was in the context of higher education.
Diversity interest encompassed all factors, not just race, and focused on each as an individual not just as a member of a racial group.
Here, race is not just one factor weighed- it is the factor.
It is also viewed in white/non-white way, which focuses even more on a certain view of race and not on diversity as a whole because it does not even seek a balance between different non-white races.
Grutter expressly articulated key limitations on its holding.
Unique context of higher education.
Seattle says that its goal is to allow non-whites same access to schools despite racial housing patterns. Also argue that a broad socialization benefit comes from a racially diverse learning environment.
It makes sense to rely on race alone, they argue, because racial diversity is the goal.
The schools' methods are not narrowly tailored to the goal of achieving the benefits that come from racial diversity; they are only to achieve racial balance, which the Court has previously condemned as unconstitutional.
No evidence that level of racial diversity necessary to achieve the educational benefits just happens to coincide with the demographics of the school districts.
Racial balance is not to be achieved for its own sake.
Binary conception of race is an extreme approach.
Districts have also failed to show that they considered other methods to achieve their stated goals.
Accepting racial balancing would justify racial proportionality throughout American society, which is contrary to the EPC's focus on individuals, not groups.
Racial balancing does not become a compelling state interest by relabeling it "racial diversity."
Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could not go to school based on the color of their skin. Here, the districts have not carried the burden of proving that this should be allowed again, even for very different reasons.
The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Resegregation is not happening in these school districts.
They have no interest in remedying past segregation.
The programs do not serve any compelling state interest.
Racial imbalance is not segregation.
The statistics in the dissent show more racial imbalance in the classrooms, but this does not amount to segregation.
It is far from apparent that coerced racial mixing has any educational benefits, much less that integration is necessary to black achievement.
Behind Justice Breyer's veil of judicial modesty hides an inflated role for the Federal Judiciary.
Most of the dissent's criticisms can be traced to its rejection of the color-blind Constitution.
To make race matter now so that it might not matter later may entrench the very prejudices we seek to overcome.
Diversity, depending on its meaning and definition, is a compelling educational goal a school district may pursue.
It is permissible to consider the racial makeup of schools and to adopt general policies to encourage a diverse student body, one aspect of which is its racial composition.
They are free to devise race-conscious measures to address the problem in a general way and without treating each student in a different fashion solely on the basis of a systematic, individual typing by race.
Strategic site selection of new schools, drawing attendance zones with general recognition of the demographics, allocating resources for special programs, recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion, tracking statistics.
The dissent has no principled limit and would result in broad acceptance of gov't racial classifications in areas far afield from schooling.
Race may only be one component of school diversity, but other demographic factors should also be considered.
The school districts' plans serve compelling interests.
The interest at stake can be labeled either racial diversity, racial balancing, or promoting greater racial integration of public schools.
There is a historical and remedial element, an interest in setting right the consequences of prior conditions of segregation.
There is an educational element, an interest in overcoming the adverse educational effects produced by and associated with highly segregated schools.
Studies suggest that children taken from those schools and placed in integrated settings often show positive academic gains.
There is a democratic element, an interest in producing an educational environment that reflects the pluralistic society in which our children will live.
The means are narrowly tailored to achieve this goal.
The race conscious criteria at issue only help set the outer bounds of broad ranges.
To use race in this way is not to set a forbidden quota.
Broad range limits on voluntary school choice plans are less burdensome than other race conscious restrictions that have been approved by this Court.
More so than Grutter, only affects a fraction of students, not all.
The manner in which the school boards developed these plans itself reflects narrow tailoring.
Each plan is the product of a process that has sought to enhance student choice, while diminishing the need for mandatory busing.
Giving some degree of weight to a local school board's knowledge in these particular matters is not inconsistent with rigorous judicial scrutiny.
It simply recognizes that judges are not well suited to act as school admins.
The school districts could not have achieved these goals through other means.
The plurality's views would threaten a surge of race-based litigation.
The school districts are merely acting as laboratories, in accordance with the Constitution.