Color-blind Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court looks as if it will again rule against civil rights.

Using two disagreeing interpretations of Brown v. Board of Education last June, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, against public schools using a student’s race to achieve or maintain integration.

The case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, questioned the legality of the school systems in Seattle and Louisville consciously placing students in schools to ensure racial equality. Though the 2003 Court upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s use of race in admissions, the recent Court appointments of conservatives Samuel Alito and Roberts by President George W. Bush tipped the scales against civil rights.

What is more, the Supreme Court went looking for this case. Generally, the Court only hears cases that will resolve conflicting decisions made in the lower courts. But the lower courts unanimously disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling – there was no conflict to be resolved. Seemingly, with a conservative majority, the Supreme Court chose this case to fulfill an agenda.

As the Supreme Court begins its new session this week, they will hear a rather under-publicized case regarding racial discrimination. CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries will question if a federal law banning racial discrimination at work can also ban retaliation against an employee for citing discrimination. This specific case will examine the firing of a black manager from a Cracker Barrel restaurant after he complained about racial discrimination. Yet again, there is no precedent for the Court to hear this case as all of the lower courts have been in agreement that the Constitution does prohibit retaliation. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case signifies the likelihood of a reversal. For the second time, the conservative majority is attempting to advance an agenda.

In agreement with the Parents Involved decision last June, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion maintaining we have a “color-blind Constitution.” If that is true, then we also have a color-blind Supreme Court with a conservative majority blind to the racial prejudices that still exist in the United States today.