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The case of Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 et al. addressed the use of race in determining which public schools children could attend. The Supreme Court ruled that using race in school assignments is unconstitutional, except when it is used to remedy past intentional discrimination or to achieve diversity. Once a school district achieves unitary status, any continued use of race must be justified on some other basis. The Court found that Seattle School District had erred in using the racial tiebreaker to give preference to white students in one school during the 2000-2001 school year. The government must use individual racial classifications narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest when distributing burdens or benefits. Racial balance should not be pursued for its own sake, and a preferential purpose based on race or ethnicity is invalid. Remedial measures may be required for school districts with a history of deliberate racial segregation, but without such a history, a school district has no legal obligation to take race-based remedial measures. The programs in question are not permissible race-based remedial measures and do not serve a genuinely compelling state interest. Only measures necessary to prevent anarchy or violence, or to remedy past discrimination for which the government is responsible, constitute compelling interests.
Using race as a factor in school assignments is unconstitutional, except when it is used to remedy past intentional discrimination or to achieve diversity. Racial classifications must be narrowly tailored and further compelling governmental interests. Direct racial classifications are inconsistent with individual dignity, and race-conscious measures that do not rely on individual classifications are preferred. Seattle's plan, which relied on a rigid formula that denied students their preferred schools based on three criteria, including race, was unconstitutional. However, the use of race-conscious criteria for desegregation efforts in schools is constitutionally permissible under the Fourteenth Amendment's aim to prevent racial exclusion and ensure full membership for those previously subjected to slavery. State laws and administrative policies aimed at reducing and eliminating de facto segregation and racial imbalance in schools have been approved by high state courts and federal courts. Voluntary programs of local school authorities designed to alleviate de facto segregation and racial imbalance in schools are not constitutionally forbidden. The Swann decision established the legal principle that the government may voluntarily adopt race-conscious measures to improve conditions of race.
The use of race-based considerations to promote or preserve greater racial integration in public schools is allowed, but plans in question will be subject to judicial review. The plans must be narrowly tailored and meet the criteria for strict scrutiny. The Court approved limited use of race-conscious criteria in integration plans, but the approach may lead to ineffective plans and increased litigation. Some states have statutes that limit transfers based on racial balance. The dissenting opinion argues that school assignment plans in Louisville and Seattle satisfy the Equal Protection Clause and that the law has approved of race-conscious measures to combat segregated schools. The Court's decision threatens progress toward racial equality and undermines institutional principles. The case involves McFarland and the Jefferson County Public Schools, with rulings from both a lower and higher court, as well as a memo from the superintendent to the board of education.
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