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The conservatives on the US Supreme Court get nostalgic; pine for the 1950’s.

In a ruling today in a split 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court struck down voluntary integration plans in a couple of public schools. At the same time, they tried insisting they weren’t going against the spirit of Brown v. Board of Education, which barred public school districts from assigning students on the basis of race.

The dissenting Justices beg to differ – first, Breyer:

The plurality pays inadequate attention to this law, to past opinions’ rationales, their language, and the contexts in which they arise. As a result, it reverses course and reaches the wrong conclusion. In doing so, it distorts precedent, it misapplies the relevant constitutional principles, it announces legal rules that will obstruct efforts by state and local governments to deal effectively with the growing re-segregation of public schools, it threatens to substitute for present calm a disruptive round of race related litigation, and it undermines Brown’s promise of integrated primary and secondary education that local communities have sought to make a reality. This cannot be justified in the name of the Equal Protection Clause.

Then, Stevens:

There is a cruel irony in The Chief Justice’s reliance on our decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U. S. 294 (1955). The first sentence in the concluding paragraph of his opinion states: “Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.” This sentence reminds me of Anatole France’s observation: “[T]he majestic equality of the la[w], forbid[s] rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.” The Chief Justice fails to note that it was only black schoolchildren who were so ordered; indeed, the history books do not tell stories of white children struggling to attend black schools. In this and other ways, The Chief Justice rewrites the history of one of this Court’s most important decisions….

The only consolation for those who believe this to be another conservative activist judges panel trying to turn back time was that the one moderate conservative judge, Justice Kennedy, refused to allow them to completely eviscerate the Brown ruling:

Kennedy suggested in a separate opinion that the Chief Justice’s opinion, in part, “is at least open to the interpretation that the Constitution requires school districts to ignore the problem of de facto resegregation in schooling. I cannot endorse that conclusion.”

Small crumbs, but I think you see why it is imperative for the Democrats to win back the White House in 2008. They can now limit Bush from appointing any further hard-right conservative extremists to the court with their Senate majority (which they probably will enlarge in 2008), but the Democrats holding the White House ensure they get to make the next judicial appointment(s) if that is needed.

In a way, it kind of makes me look at our own judicial system – even though we have always had justices appointed by the Prime Minister rather then have them face a vote, it has remained relatively non-partisan (Mulroney appointed the current Chief Justice), and without too much rancor. Harper of course has injected exactly that into the equation by removing the judges representative from effectively having a vote on the advisory panel and giving the police a say in that same panel who gets promoted – He would follow his American Idol to try in a blatant attempt to hand-pick judges who would follow his political views.

For more reading on the appalling decision today by the Conservative majority, who apparently pine for the “good old days”, here are some good blogarticles denouncing the decision.

Thank goodness I live in Canada, but let’s make sure Harper can’t turn us into a clone of his American Idol.

7 comments to The conservatives on the US Supreme Court get nostalgic; pine for the 1950’s.

  • foottothefire

    Don't mean to hog the issue, Scott, however this USSC decision carries a huge message for Canadians about Harper and his blatant redesign ing of Canada into an American model including his attempt at a "designer" Supreme Court.  Here then are two op/ed from leading American press:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/28/AR2007062801791.html?nav=hcmodule
    and
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/29/us/29assess.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
    In the interest of fairness (there's a concept for Conservatives to dwell on), try
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N2NmNjVhYjkzNjZlZjU5YTdlODcyZjZiZDRlNjRhNGY=
    and then, if you have carefully filtered through the anchored positions and still give a rats heiny, read the next one the conclusion of which gives hope for a revival of eugenics…
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Njk2ODdiMjUxNTk3NDE5YmQ3MjgzZGUwMGNjMzRhYTQ=

  • foottothefire

    I quake in the face of all the additional legal opinion above.  Why of why did this cruel world not allow Justice Breyer the opportunity to read/hear from all the support above for the 'majority' before he rendered his dissent.  I agree with the 'majority'; precedence as a matter of law, sucks. 
    I'm certain the legal opinion to follow in the United States will fully support the 'majority'….just you wait and see.
    Canada's New Government in action in the USSC.

  • The US is still a very racist society, with lots of "white" neighbourhoods still.  This didn't matter as much as long as schools were desegrated, and the school desegregation also encouraged the neighbourhoods to be more diverse.  But this decision basically says that white children don't have to go to school with black children anymore, that having a "white" neighbourhood means you can have a "white" school too. In ten years, the US school system will be effectively segregated again.

  • "I don't suppose you bothered to read the SCOTUS decision you're referring to."

    Seriously. What do you think the answer to that is?

  • KC

    I should add that I think it is pretty bad form to imply that just because someone is a right winger and/or opposes affirmative action they are some sort of evil person who is "nostalgic" for and wants to go back to the segregated days of the south.    Thats pretty bad.  I dont buy into that kind of over-the-top ideological warfare anymore. 

  • ALW

    I don't suppose you bothered to read the SCOTUS decision you're referring to.  The court actually said there's nothing wrong with positive discrimination to remedy social inequalities.  It just said that using race as a proxy isn't an acceptable way to do it.  Hardly earth-shattering stuff.

    And I suppose next you're going to tell me that Harper's SCC pick,  Justice Rothstein, is a radical right-winger.

    I know you don't really think Harper fantasizes about copying Dubya.  It's just something you tell yourself to make yourself feel better.

  • KC

    “further hard-right conservative extremists”

    Yeesh. There was nothing “hard-right”, “conservative”, or “extreme” about this decision; nor did it reverse course on Brown. Stephen’s observations are irrelevant (ie no matter what happened in the past, or who was discriminated against in the past, it is still wrong to discriminate. Period. Two wrongs do not make a right). Breyer’s reasons you just quoted are complete crap: Schools HAVE been integrated. If you move into a neighbourhood you go to a school. You dont go to a black school or a white school. You go to a school. Thats integration. That your schools racial composition reflects the composition of your neighbourhood is not an inherently negative phenomenom. Should my kids be flown to Vnacouver every morning because the racial composition of my neighbourhood is not the same as the country as a whole and we need to move people around? The idea of forcing a kid to ride a bus for hours rather than walking down the block because his neighbourhood and therefore his school happens to be predominantly of X race is ludicrous and racist.

    This isnt about reversing Brown and Board Scott. Brown and Board has been implemented. No public school in the United States can legally say “no you cant come here because you are black” and that is a good thing. That ruling (unlike say Roe v. Wade) is not being threatened. I highly doubt that John Roberts or any significant portion of the population wants to see that holding reversed. I would be standing beside you in protest if it ever came to that but Im not particularly worried that it ever would. What you are talking about, and what people like me and other LIBERALS dont like is “extremist” “hard left” social engineering that CONTINUES to classify us into groups based on arbitrary considerations.

    Treat me like a person. Leave the colour of my skin and other arbitrary and irrelevant considerations out of it.

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