Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 - Oral Argument - December 04, 2006

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1

Media for Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 28, 2007 in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 04, 2006 in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument first today in 05-908, Parents Involved in Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1.

Mr. Korrell.

Harry J.F. Korrell:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

In an effort to achieve its desired racial balance in its popular high schools, the Seattle school district denied over 300 children, both white and minority children, admission to their chosen schools solely because of their race and without any individualized consideration.

This strikes at the heart of the Equal Protection Clause which commands that Government treat people as individuals, not simply as members of a racial class.

This fundamental equal protection principle was reiterated in Grutter and in Gratz.

The central question in this case is not, as the school district and many of its allies suggest, whether integration is important or whether desegregation is compelling.

The central question in this case is whether outside of the remedial context, diversity defined as the school district does, as a white/nonwhite racial balance, can be a compelling interest that justifies the use of race discrimination in high school admissions.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Mr. Korrell--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Do you disagree in general with the Solicitor General's brief?

Do you agree in general with the brief submitted by the Government or do you have differences with it in its approach?

Harry J.F. Korrell:

Justice Kennedy, we... we agree mostly with the Solicitor General's brief.

I believe the Solicitor General might take a different position on whether race neutral mechanisms can be used to accomplish race specific purposes.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Well, I can--

Harry J.F. Korrell:

But that's not an issue the court needs to reach in this case.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

--Well, it, it is a point that I, I'd like both him and you to discuss at some point during your argument.

If... can you use race for site selection?

When you have, you need to build a new school.

There are three sites.

One of them would be all one race.

Site two would be all the other race.

Site three would be a diversity of races.

Can the school board with, with the intent to have diversity pick site number 3?

Harry J.F. Korrell:

Justice Kennedy, I think the answer turns on the reason that the schools have the racial compositions that they do.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

It... there's... well, we can have all kinds of different hypotheticals, but there's residential housing segregation, and it wants, it wants, the board wants to have diversity.

Harry J.F. Korrell:

Your Honor, our position is that if, if the resulting... if the racial composition of those schools is not the result of past de jure segregation--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

No.

It is a new school.

It's a new school.

Harry J.F. Korrell:

--In that case, Your Honor, Parents' position is that the Government can't be in the position of deciding what the right racial mix is.