Friday, June 29, 2007

Brown v Board of Education's Original Intent

In his confirmation hearings Chief Justice John Roberts affirmed his support of Brown v. The Board of Education, a decision that has often been misinterpreted by judicial activists. Finally, more than 50 years after the Brown decision, Justice Roberts has revealed in his opinion for the 5-4 majority in Parents Involved v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 what Brown really meant. "Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin," he wrote of the cruel injustice of white children being told they could not attend the black schools of their choice. In the wake of Brown liberals only compounded this injustice by forcing black children to go to school with white children even if they didn't want to. In the name of equality hardly anyone got to attend the schools of their choice. Although the decision in Parents Involved generated 185 pages of opinions, Roberts has conveniently boiled down the true meaning of Brown in a sentence that could fit on a bumper sticker: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.''

Brown v. The Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson which upheld the segregation of railroad cards based on the doctrine of "separate but equal." But Brown had the inadvertent effect of replacing this doctrine with an even more unfair policy: "together but unequal." Black children were forced to attend white schools where they couldn't possible compete and white children where forced to attend black schools where they weren't challenged enough. Parents were horrified that their children had become pawns in social experiments that tried to force equality and integration. Many parents responded understandably to forced busing of their children by throwing rocks at buses carrying other people's children.

The Brown decision, perhaps more than any other event in our history, gave rise to the modern conservative movement. In writing about Brown in his book Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater said, "In effect the Court said that what matters is not the ideas of the men who wrote the Constitution, but the Court's ideas. It was only by engrafting its own ideas on the law of the land that the Court was able to reach the decision it did….I am therefore not impressed that the Supreme Court's decision on school integration is the law of the land" William Buckley's National Review also denounced the decision at the time. And future Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote a memo in 1952 urging the Court to do the right thing. "I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by 'liberal' colleagues but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed," wrote Rehnquist, who would stay true to his ideals and make a lot of unpopular and unhumanitarian decisions. If it weren't for Brown, there might be no modern conservative movement.

But like all conservatives Justice Roberts is a great respecter of the principle of stare decisis and did not want to overturn an important precedent like Brown after more than 50 years (although the Warren Court apparently felt no such compunction in overturning Plessy). So instead, he went back to the original intent of the decision, which was that the government should be completely colorblind. If many schools have become resegregated in the half century since Brown, then the government is totally blind to this outcome. As Justice John Paul Stevens noted in his dissent, quoting Anatole France, "The majestic equality of the law, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread." Under the Roberts court the government gives black students and white students the same freedom to go to dilapidated segregated schools if they want to.

If parents don't want their children attending segregated schools, then the have the freedom of choice to move to another district, earn enough money to send their kids to private schools or quit their jobs and homeschool their kids. Other parents, on the other hand, may prefer that their children attend segregated schools. "People -- black, white, brown, rich, middle-class, poor, Christian, secular, etc. -- naturally want to be around people like themselves. Why is that such a bad thing?" conservative Rod Dreher recently wrote. He points to a study by Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam that shows that "the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone." The recent conservative uprising over immigration legislation was a warning to politicians that conservatives do not want to be forced to listen to salsa music and be subjected to the pungent odors of Mexican cooking in their own neighborhoods, because that will only make them trust their Spanish-speaking neighbors less, especially since they can't understand a word they are saying.

"It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much," Judge Stephen Breyer said in an angry dissent from the bench. But all Justice Roberts has done is return to the original intent of Brown, changing things back to the status quo. In coming years I think we will see the Court returning to the original intent of a number of decisions. Hopefully, we will return to the original intent of Roe v. Wade, which affirmed that the government does have the right to restrict abortion, the original intent of Griswold v. Connecticut, which granted only married couples the right to privacy and the original intent of Marbury v. Madison, which affirmed that the Supreme Court only has the power to interpret the original intent of the Founding Fathers not make up its own interpretations.

I hope that the Roberts Court will also return the original intent of legislation that has been distorted over the years. It made some strides in this direction in another decision the Court issued yesterday, which stripped away 96 years of misinterpretations of anti-trust laws and returned back to the original intent of the law. If Justice Roberts Court succeeds in his efforts to wrest control of the judiciary away from the radical judicial activists, this country will be returned back to the original vision of the Founding Fathers and the last 200 years or so will just seem like a bad dream.

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bitchphd said...

You, sir, are an underappreciated genius.

Doodle Bean said...

Dear Mr. Swift,

Thank you for yet another masterpiece of conservative thought!

I did just want to add one tiny little fact. You mention that coerced school integration forced concerned parents to throw rocks at buses full of other people's children.

Sadly, you neglected to mention that it also forced fine, upstanding young men to use our nation's flag as a weapon.

Integration was a tragedy of truly epic proportions!

I'm surely glad the Roberts court has such respect for the past, when there was no mistrust and crime in communities and every single citizen was a genial genius. Perhaps, with the court's help, we can re-achieve that pinnacle of our civilization!

We can only hope so...


Doodle Bean

Batocchio said...

Well played, as always.

This decision really pains me. Anyway, thanks for some biting irony to counteract the "cruel irony" of the Roberts decision. Him invoking Brown was just ghastly.

Jaesoreal said...

I'm just glad students don't have to grow up worrying about race since they won't see other races in school. Maybe if we can get workforces to segregate, all racism would cease as the races would not need to mingle and create racial confusion or operate in ignorance. Why learn and grow when you can just avoid?

Quiddity said...

That antitrust ruling blows me away. What shoddy reasoning! This court will say anything (“widespread agreement” among economists that resale price maintenance agreements can promote competition). What a joke.

OutOfContext said...

Just as I supported using force to impose Democracy in Iraq, I support the use of force to impose desegregation. So, as much as it pains me to disagree with you here Jon Swift, think this ruling is an egregious attempt to limit the executive authority to impose the values that we all agree are, well, valuable.

Hathor said...

Jon Swift,
Interesting that you already placed black children who have never gone to a school as inferior. That was not the issue and you know it, but you are grasping at an argument to justify your racism an hide it as conservative thought. That is why without some intervention, racism will determine the fate of black people, because what system would make you do the right thing and respect black people as having the same capabilities as whites. When hiring, giving them mortgages for houses where they want, even allowing them to choose what school they would want to attend or send their children to; how can blacks do any of those things with people of your ilk running things. Are blacks suppose to count on "the kindness of white privilege?"

Anonymous said... already placed black children who have never gone to a school as inferior.

Indeed Hathor, this is a ridiculous stance. Unschooled black children are by far the tenderest and tastiest.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, you are so much smarter than they are Jon. We appreciate your reducing complicated ideas to a sophomoric level.

OutOfContext said...

assistant village idiot, sarcasm is out of place on the Jon Swift comment page, which I believe is what going on in your comment. It's one thing to disagree, which I do in my earlier comment, another altogether to dismiss with some cruelty. Jon can't help the level of intelligence with which he was endowed by his creator. I apologize if I misinterpreted, but I don't think I have, because I have children of high school age.
Jon, I recommend that if he taunts you a second time, you speak to his superior.

Bukko Boomeranger said...

Hear! Hear! to the honourable U.S. Supreme Court for recognising that people have a right to be free from being forced to go to school with other people whose shade of flesh makes their own flesh crawl. This will make it possible for black people to avoid forced integration activities such as sitting at lunch counters with people who are yelling "GET OUT OF HERE YOU FILTHY NI**ER!"

(I see Elizabeth Edwards has been here too...)

Sad to say there is no such freedom in Australia. There are actual LAWS against racial and religious vilification. So if a busload of football fans begins yelling "Auschwitz! Auschwitz" at an Orthodox Jew they see whilst stopped at a traffic light, and one of them jumps out and hurls the Jew's black fur hat into the gutter, as happened in my suburb, the police get involved.

Shameful how Australia has changed since the official "Whites Only" immigration policy was dropped in the mid-1970s. The government abandoned it out of fear that this told the 950 million Asiatics in the region that they were despised by the 15 million Aussies who lived here at the time. Always a worry when you are outnumbered by other races, that they might take offence at your air of superiority and become violently restive when their second-class status is thrown back in their face. Fortunately, that cannot happen in the U.S., where white-skinned people must surely have vastly superior numbers to the blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minority groups who can now be shunned from your schools.

I have no doubt that I will live long enough to see Justice Roberts return the U.S. to the days when your Founding Fathers counted people of lesser races as 3/5 of a white man, and your Declaration of Independence referred to the original inhabitants of North America as "savages." If I said that in a public forum about Aborigines, I would be hauled up on charges. But with the Roberts Court, America is now the land of freedom from racial prejudice.

In a related note, is there any truth to the Internet rumour that your Supreme Court will be changing its black robes for white ones?

Anonymous said...

Pure gold.

I love you.

Unknown said...

Is that S.O.B. Roberts actually smirking behind that American Flag?

it figures..

Ruptured Eardrum said...

That was a VERY interesting one! Seriously interesting.

Dr. Pamposh Razdan said...

That is great to hear, thank you for reading!

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