Today’s editorial digs into the precedents the judges cited:
As precedent, the opinion points to Hunter v. Erickson and Washington v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1. In 1969’s Hunter v. Erickson, the Court considered an amendment to the city charter in Akron, Ohio. The provision held that the city council could not enact housing-discrimination laws without first putting them to a popular vote. The Court held that by placing an additional burden specifically on laws that advance the interests of minorities, the provision violated the equal-protection clause.
Much more troubling is Washington, a busing case from 1982. In Washington, the Supreme Court invalidated a state referendum that ended forced busing for racial reasons, but not busing related to other concerns (such as overcrowding). The initiative, the Supreme Court ruled, “removes the authority to address a racial problem — and only a racial problem — from the existing decisionmaking body [local school districts], in such a way as to burden minority interests,” and was therefore unconstitutional.