Administration opposes `racial balancing' programs in schools

August 25, 2006|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has urged the Supreme Court to strike down voluntary school integration programs that exclude some students because of their race.

Administration lawyers filed briefs this week in pending cases from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., on the side of white parents who are challenging "racial balancing" programs as unconstitutional.

The parents say the guidelines amount to racial discrimination and violate the Constitution's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws." They lost in the lower courts, but the Supreme Court will hear their appeals in the fall.

In the briefs, Solicitor General Paul D. Clement urged the court to rule that "the use of a racial classification to achieve a desired racial balance in public schools" is just as unconstitutional as old-fashioned racial segregation.

Louisville, which had a history of segregated schools, adopted guidelines in 2001 that said the enrollment in each elementary school should be at least 15 percent, but no more than 50 percent, black. Crystal Meredith, a white parent, sued when her son was prohibited from attending the elementary nearest his home.

The Seattle school board adopted guidelines for its 10 high schools intended to preserve racial diversity and prevent segregation in the schools that mirrored the racially segregated housing patterns in the city.

A group of parents sued to challenge the guidelines after their children were denied enrollment in their first choice of a high school because of race or ethnicity.

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