Document Type


Publication Date

January 2011


In his pivotal concurrence in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 Justice Kennedy articulated two fundamental strains of an equality ideal for addressing systemic racial segregation and inequality in public education: he eloquently underscored the critical importance of racial integration for educational equity, and reiterated the essential role of the political branches in facilitating this integration. Kennedy noted the compelling government interest in decreasing the effects of de facto racial segregation and isolation and recognized the fallacy of a public/private distinction in defining the constitutional violation of racially segregated educational environments: The plurality opinion is at least open to the interpretation that the Constitution requires school districts to ignore the problem of de facto resegregation in schooling. I cannot endorse that conclusion. To the extent the plurality opinion suggests the Constitution mandates that state and local school authorities must accept the status quo of racial isolation in schools, it is, in my view, profoundly mistaken.