Bench Memos

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A Modest Proposal


If, as the Washington Post tells us (in an editorial that is nearly as bad as the New York Times’s), racial balancing plans in public schools are needed “to overcome patterns of residential segregation,” why not directly attack the disparate racial composition of America’s neighborhoods?  Why should America’s adults make America’s children bear the burden of long bus rides?  Why not instead require that all neighborhoods reflect the racial composition of their broader metropolitan area?  Why do we continue to tolerate the invidious freedom of Americans to self-“segregate” by choosing where they wish to live?


Under the logic of Justice Breyer’s dissent, there’s surely a compelling interest in “setting right the consequences of prior conditions of [residential] segregation,” which were long bolstered by race-restrictive covenants in deeds.  And so long as the racial residential quota in a neighborhood has broad outer bounds, it would be narrowly tailored.  Forced exchanges of property—accompanied by just compensation, of course—would serve a public purpose within the meaning of the Court’s 2005 ruling in Kelo.  What better way to fulfill (in Breyer’s words) “the promise of true racial equality—not as a matter of fine words on paper, but as a matter of everyday life in the Nation’s cities and schools”?


My apologies to Jonathan Swift.

Tags: Whelan


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