When a case reaches the US Supreme Court, it has already traveled a complicated path. First, it usually has to survive to a hearing or trial. At a minimum the judge has made some sort of final decision that is appealable. Then the case has to travel through to a Court of Appeals. If one side still isn’t happy, and has the money, that side will petition for cert. The court accepts a tiny percentage of the petitions for cert that are filed. The number that sticks in my head is 4%.
So from the start, any decision that is issued by the Supreme Court has the potential to be a landmark case. They usually will focus on big issues that will have an impact. Maybe the case focused on a government taking, interstate commerce, a federal regulation or law. Or one of the social issues like abortion or education.
Thursday, the court handed down decisions in two school cases that deal with policies schools in Louisville, Kentucky and Seattle had for assigning children to schools. Seattle has never been under a court-order regarding school desegregation; Louisville’s order was revoked in 2001 when the district was found to be unitary. Yet both school districts were making decisions on where children would attend school based on race.
Today it appears racial balancing isn’t allowed anymore. As I said often in class though, it will be interesting to see how the decision is applied. Was racial desegregation ended today? It depends. And as the majority opinion stated, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”