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Not Exactly “Voluntary”


A Los Angeles Times story (picked up by lots of other papers), on two briefs filed earlier this week in the Supreme Court by the Bush administration, begins: “The Bush administration has urged the Supreme Court to strike down voluntary school integration programs across the nation that exclude some students because of their race.” Now, what Solicitor General Paul Clement — who deserves great praise for these filings, by the way, as does the administration generally — says in these two briefs is that public school systems should not be allowed to assign students to schools on the basis of their skin color because of desire to achieve racial “diversity.” What the Seattle and Louisville are doing here is “voluntary” in the sense that the SCHOOL SYSTEMS aren’t being required by, say, a federal judge or a federal statute to engage in such discrimination — but it is anything but voluntary for the PARENTS AND STUDENTS who are told that a particular kid can or cannot go to this school or that school because of his or her skin color. These programs are, in other words, no more “voluntary” than Jim Crow segregation was.

For my take on why the Bush administration is right, and on the importance of these two cases, see my earlier NRO column here.


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