Panel discussions explore Supreme Court rulings on school integration

August 31, 2007Duke Law News

Aug. 31, 2007 – On Sept. 5 and 6, two Duke Law School events will probe the legal and policy implications, respectively, of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on school integration. Each event will get underway in room 3041 at 12:05 p.m.

In its final decision of the 2006 term, the Supreme Court held unconstitutional the voluntary public school integration plans of Louisville, Kentucky, and Seattle, Washington. The Court split 4-1-4 in deciding whether school districts may use race as a factor in assigning students to public schools in order to achieve racial integration that reflects districts’ overall student populations. Four justices, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, endorsed a broad prohibition of any use of race in student assignment, while another four, in a dissenting opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, would have upheld the plans. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in a separate opinion, concurred with the majority in striking down the plans in question, but held that achieving “diverse” student populations – including racially diverse populations – does represent a compelling interest and endorsed specific methods local communities might employ to achieve that end.

On Sept. 5, Professor Erwin Chemerinsky will moderate a discussion on the legal implications of the decisions with panelists Professor Neil Siegel, Anurima Bhargava of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity. The policy implications of the rulings will be the focus of the Sept. 6 discussion. Professor Charles Clotfelter, whose work was cited in both the majority and dissenting opinions, will moderate. Ann Majestic ’82, who represents a number of North Carolina’s largest school boards, and education litigator Audrey Anderson will be among the panelists.

These events are sponsored by the American Constitution Society, the Federalist Society, the Education, Law & Policy Society, Hogan & Hartson, and the Program in Public Law.

A light lunch will be served at each event on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact Frances Presma at 613-7248 or