Once again we’re hearing about how clocks are being turned back, this time at the most recent Democratic debate. Seriously, where are all these clocks I keep hearing about?
A half century of desegregation law — and racial tension — was laid bare for the Democrats hours before they met. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court clamped historic new limits on school desegregation plans.
Clinton said the decision “turned the clock back” on history, and her competitors agreed.
The conservative majority cited the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case to bolster its precedent-shattering decision, an act termed a “cruel irony” by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent. The 1954 ruling led to the end of state-sponsored school segregation in the United States.
Obama, the only black candidate in the eight-person field, spoke of civil rights leaders who fought for Brown v. Board of Education and other precedents curbed by the high court. “If it were not for them,” he said, “I would not be standing here.”
Biden noted that he voted against confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion. He said he was tough on Roberts. “The problem is the rest of us were not tough enough,” he said, seeming to take a jab at fellow Democrats. “They have turned the court upside down.”
All the Democratic candidates in the Senate opposed the confirmation of conservative Justice Samuel Alito, another of President Bush’s nominees. Clinton, Biden and Obama voted against Roberts; Sen. Chris Dodd voted for his nomination.
Once again, it must be restated that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was nothing about segregation. Segregation was a racist practice implemented by schools in the southern states to keep blacks out of white schools until they eventually came around to accepting the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, “with all deliberate speed.”
It was and still is impossible, the Court found, to fashion a system that could both forcefully segregate schools and maintain equality at the same time.
Today’s decision doesn’t breath life into forced segregation as many are charging it with doing; it strikes a blow to forced integration. In our noble quest to achieve racial equality the Supreme Court was troubled by the social experimenting going on to get there.
The most hated justice by the Left, self-hating negro Clarence Thomas, made the most sense in his dissection of forced integration and its hardly-noticed consequences:
“[R]acial paternalism and its unintended consequences can be as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination.” Adarand, supra, at 241 (opinion of THOMAS, J.). As these programs demonstrate, every time the government uses racial criteria to “bring the races together,” post, at 29, someone gets excluded, and the person excluded suffers an injury solely because of his or her race. The petitioner in the Louisville case received a letter from the school board informing her that her kindergartener would not be allowed to attend the school of petitioner’s choosing because of the child’s race.
Most of the dissent’s criticisms of today’s result can be traced to its rejection of the color-blind Constitution. See post, at 29. The dissent attempts to marginalize the notion of a color-blind Constitution by consigning it to meand Members of today’s plurality.19 See ibid.; see also post, at 61. But I am quite comfortable in the company I keep. My view of the Constitution is Justice Harlan’s view in Plessy: “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U. S. 537, 559 (1896) (dissenting opinion). And my view was the rallying cry for the lawyers who litigated Brown.
Like it or not, the world doesn’t abruptly become peachier when you’ve got the same number of white and black children eating lunch together in the school cafeteria. And trying to balance the equation by using children as variables because of their race is exactly the problem our nation had with segregation: it’s based on race.