Under Supreme Attack: High Court Decisions Could Erode Hard-Fought Gains

Article excerpt

Black America faces a new Jim Crow era. Nearly 100 years after the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson ruled "separate but equal" accommodations constitutional, many African Americans predict that upcoming rulings on congressional redistricting cases will support a reassertion of white male power.

The cases the Court will hear are Shaw v. Hunt (later Shaw v. Reno) and Vera v. Bush. The former case challenges North Carolina's majority African American 12th District. The latter reviews whether a Texas federal court acted unconstitutionally when it invalidated three minority congressional districts.

Last spring, the Court ruled on three related issues. It declared that school desegregation could not be brought about by creating state-funded magnet schools; it challenged the legality of federal set-aside programs for minorities and women under the equal protection clause of the Constitution; and, in Miller v. Johnson, it upheld a Georgia federal court decision that racial considerations predominated in the decision to create the 11th Congressional District held by Cynthia A. McKinney (D-Ga.). Thus, the district is unconstitutional and must be redrawn.

Elaine R. Jones, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called the ruling a dangerous step towards the exclusion of African Americans from meaningful political participation."

The decision's long-term impact is unknown. …