Thursday, May 31, 2007

Affirmative Action & Freedom of Expression

Two blockbuster cases await decision as the onset of June approaches and the 2006 term of the Supreme Court comes to a close.

The first case deals with the ability of public schools in the state of Washington to use race as a factor for assigning seats in high school assignments. Certain public schools in the city of Seattle are oversubscribed by public high school students and as such high schools use certain criteria to determine which students to accept. Race is the last factor among three others considered in the selection process.

Justices took great pains during oral argument, however, to make sure that they communicated the fact that the "integration tie breaker" used by the Seattle school districts is different from the affirmative action plan seen in the Grutter University of Michigan Law School case from 2003.

Because of this distancing from previous precedent upholding the use of race, On the Docket believes that USSC will strike down the integration tie breaker.

The second case deals with freedom of expression. Namely, the phrase, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," which was displayed during a public school parade in Anchorage, Alaska. During oral argument justices were quite concerned with the ability of school officials to ban this type of free speech (one which did not harm others) as too limiting a regulation in violation of the First Amendment. The justices seemed to imply that if they ruled in favor of the school, school administrators would then be free to regulate views of school teachers, books, and other learning materials that school adminstrators may perhaps not agree with.

It is therefore our prediction that the Justices will rule in favor of the students.

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