Resources on Major Court Decisions
THE CRP maintains legal briefs, memos, policy papers, and research related to many major legal decisions involving education policy and civil rights.
Resources Related to Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action
Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action et al., is a case concerning Michigan's Proposal 2, a referendum banning affirmative action in the state. Proposal 2 was designed to overturn affirmative action plans at the University of Michigan and other universities in the state and to inscribe that prohibition into the state constitution. Previously the Supreme Court upheld the University of Michigan’s affirmative action plan in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision (see below). The U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that Proposal 2 rigged the political process by selectively cementing prohibitions in the state constitution against only the consideration of race, which violated the principles of equal protection.
Fisher v. University of Texas is a case before the United States Supreme Court concerning the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin. The case, brought by an undergraduate student in 2008, challenges the admissions policy of the University and the precedent established in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that race could play a limited role in the admissions policies of universities. This case challenges many affirmative action policies in admissions at U.S. public universities. policies that CRP research has shown are helpful and necessary.
Horne v. Flores, 129 S.Ct. 2579 (2009), is a case about the rights of English Language Learners (ELs) in public schools in Arizona. The United States Supreme Court accepted the case and, in effect, evaluated whether or not Arizona educational policy with regard to students learning to speak English complied with the law, particularly the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA). On June 25, 2009, the Court overturned the decision of the state court, deciding in favor of Superintendent Horne and allowing Arizona to determine its own requirements with regards to ELL instruction. Justice Breyer dissented (joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg) and issued an opinion warning that the Court’s decision risked harming ELLs by denying schoolchildren the English-learning instruction necessary “to overcome language barriers that impede” their “equal participation.”
Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 and Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 were a linked pair of cases in which the United States Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admissions policies of the University of Michigan Law School and the University's undergraduate division respectively. Both decisions were announced on June 23, 2003. The Supreme Court ruled the university's point system (which automatically awarded points to underrepresented ethnic groups) was too mechanistic in its use of race as a factor in admissions, and was therefore unconstitutional.
Resources Related to Comfort ex rel. Neumyer v. Lynn School Committee: Voluntary Desegregation Plan Using Race As A Factor
On June 6, 2003, the Federal District Court of Massachusetts ruled that the Lynn School District’s voluntary desegregation plan that considers race as a factor in assigning children to K-12 public schools was constitutional in Comfort ex rel. Neumyer v. Lynn School Committee, 263 F.Supp.2d 209 (D.Mass.). The Court examined whether the voluntary desegregation plan was Constitutional by applying the strict scrutiny standard. The Court found that diversity, including racial diversity to achieve the goals of “preparing students to be citizens in a multiracial society and eliminating the concrete harmful consequences that de facto segregation inflicts on a public school system,” could be a compelling state interest. The Court also found that the voluntary desegregation plan was narrowly tailored because it helped to create an integrated school environment, where there was actual intergroup racial contact that provided students with the ability to cultivate skills that will enable them to function as citizens in a complex and diverse world.
Resources Related to McFarland v. Jefferson County Public Schools & Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (PICS)
The Supreme Court has issued its first major decision on school desegregation in twelve years — McFarland v. Jefferson County Public Schools & Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 — a decision affirming the goal of integrated education as a compelling interest but rejecting the means many school districts use to maintain some integration in a rapidly resegregating society.