Parents Involved & Meredith: A Prediction Regarding the (Un)Constitutionality of Race-Conscious Student Assignment Plans


During the October 2006 Term, the United States Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of voluntary race-conscious student assignment plans as employed in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No.1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education. These cases will mark the Court’s first inquiry regarding the use of race to combat de facto segregation in public education. This article examines the constitutionality of such plans and provides a prediction regarding the Court’s decisions.

The article begins with an analysis of the resegregation trend currently plaguing American educational institutions and identifies two causes for the occurrence: (1) the shift in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence regarding desegregation and (2) school officials’ adherence to the “neighborhood school concept” when making student assignment decisions. The article then examines the challenged plans, specifically their attempts to create and maintain racially diverse student bodies through the use of racial tiebreakers and guidelines. After considering the Supreme Court’s prior decisions and rationale regarding the use of race in education, the article predicts that the Supreme Court will strike down both plans as violative of the Equal Protection Clause. In light of this probable outcome, the article urges school officials to consider race-neutral methods to achieve diversity and to improve the quality of education provided to disadvantaged, minority students.


Civil Law | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Education Law | Jurisprudence | Law and Society | Public Law and Legal Theory | Social Welfare Law

Date of this Version

September 2006