Thursday, November 14, 2013

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 case brief

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 case brief summary
127 S. Ct. 2738 (2007)

In separate cases, petitioners, a parents' association and the parent of a student, brought actions against respondent public school districts, challenging the districts' plans which relied upon racial classifications in making school assignments. Upon grants of writs of certiorari, the association and the parent appealed the judgments of the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Ninth Circuits which upheld the plans.

Both school districts adopted plans whereby, after place of residence and availability of space were considered, school assignments were made on the basis of race to ensure that schools were racially balanced.


  • The U.S. Supreme Court first held that the cases were not moot, even though the plans were not currently being applied to children of the association's members or the student, since it was not absolutely clear that application of the racial guidelines could not reasonably be expected to recur. 
  • Further, the Court held that the districts, which did not operate legally segregated schools, denied students equal protection by classifying students by race and relying upon the classification in school assignments. 
  • The districts failed to establish a compelling interest in racial diversity since their plans relied on racial classification in a nonindividualized, mechanical way as a decisive factor, and racial imbalance in the schools was not unconstitutional by itself. 
  • Further, the minimal effect the classifications actually had on assignments indicated that other means would be effective to achieve the districts' goals and that the use of racial classifications was unnecessary.

The judgments upholding the districts' school assignment plans based on race were reversed, and the cases were remanded for further proceedings.

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