Supreme Court to Decide Affirmative Action Cases

Article excerpt

In October, the AAUP joined the American Council on Education and other higher education organizations in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court addressing whether local school districts can make decisions based on race as a method of ensuring racial diversity and avoiding segregation in public schools.

The two cases under consideration, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, are being decided jointly. In 2000, a coalition called Parents Involved in Community Schools sued the Seattle, Washington, school district, arguing that a district admissions policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The policy allowed all students to apply to attend any district high school but used race as a tiebreaker when a high school received more applicants than it could accept.

A district court upheld the tiebreaker plan under federal and state law. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found in 2005 that the school district had a compelling interest in securing the educational and social benefits of racial and ethnic diversity and in attempting to end racial segregation in its high schools by ensuring that its school assignments do not simply replicate Seattle's segregated housing patterns. It also concluded that the district's plan was narrowly tailored to achieve its compelling interests.

In June 2006, the Supreme Court granted review, and in December it heard oral arguments in Parents lurohvd in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. …