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Commentary on the Court

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As school districts try to interpret last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision on school desegregation, editorial pages across the country have offered the following opinions:

The two major newspapers covering the districts in the case were split. The Seattle Times agreed with the decision; Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader said it was "supreme nonsense."

Elsewhere, the San Fransisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Raleigh's News & Observer minced no words in their opposition to the 5-4 decision. The Sacramento Bee and the St. Petersburg Times both called it a step backwards, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found the majority opinion "sadly dogmatic."

On the other side, Denver's Rocky Mountain News called the decision "on the money" and The San Diego Union-Tribune characterized it as a "ruling that squares with the 14th Amendment, court precedent, and common sense."

Kennedy's opinion opens the door for more legal action, The Plain Dealer says. Until then, The Oregonian tells districts to "look for new ways to fight inequality."

"Not as bad as it could have been," said The Des Moines Register, while also offering advice to districts in the state with desegregation plans.

Columnists offered their own take. The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson compared the majority justices to George Wallace; Seattle's Danny Westneat found himself agreeing with Clarence Thomas; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Wooten thinks vouchers would help integrate schools; and St. Petersburg's Thomas C. Tobin wrote about racial integration among teachers.

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With this court I'll bet the situation will be the same as with attempts by the Christian Right to inject religion into the public schools by way of "Intelligent Design." It won't matter how you package it - the court will see through to the underlying reasoning. The Court will reject the rational basis argument for desegregating by income for example. District's will have to actually describe the compelling state interest narrowly tailored to achieve that interest before allowing districts to continue busing kids around based on their parents' income. They will view income as a proxy for race - which it is. Do you think that we will ever see busing en mass where kids of the same race are sent to "richer" parts of the same district? Not in today's tough economic climate. It would only be tolerated by the voters if the students were of different races - and then someone asks: "Why are you doing it?" "Oh, to increase integration of the classes." C'mon. Too expensive. It'll be a tough sell.

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