Seattle School District Case: The Plurality’s Unrealistic View of Race in the U.S.

In Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, the plurality opinion (authored and signed by Chief Justice John Roberts, and signed by Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas) concluded, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

I am not as confident as the plurality opinion concerning the issue of race (particularly the Black-White paradigm) in the United States. Race has been, is, and will continue to be an issue simply as a result of demographic reality and the unresolved history concerning the Black people placed into slavery and their descendants suffering the persistent legacy of the slavery institution.

United States (population: 281,421,906 (2000 Census)

Race Percentage of population Number
White 75.1% 211,460,626
Black 12.3 34,658,190
Native American 0.9 2,475,956
Asian 3.6 10,242,998

Chief Justice Roberts’s words ring hollow once one studies how pervasive the practice of discrimination is in the U.S. society (while progress has been made, there is much work left to be done). For example, in Seattle, the location of the Supreme Court case, was once a segregated city, with the widespread use of racial restrictive covenants in real estate deeds, among other practices.

The University of Washington’s Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project has extensive information on the history of segregated Seattle here.