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Obama: Supreme Court ruling an obstacle to opportunity

July 02, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement on the Supreme Court's diversity ruling.

"Today's Supreme Court ruling has placed a serious obstacle in the way of achieving the vision of America first outlined in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, where we see racially integrated education as the best way to reflect our great diversity, unite our nation, and make real our promise of equal opportunity for all."

"Though we have come a long way in those fifty years since Brown, our schools remain segregated by race, as well as resources and opportunities. Three-quarters of black and Latino school children attend predominantly minority schools and white children are even more likely to attend racially isolated schools. And yet, hundreds of school districts across the country have taken noble, yet modest, steps to address this problem, while still accommodating parental and student choice. They have done so because they too believe that our nation's prosperity depends on our children learning to understand each other better, work together, and solve problems together."

"This wrong-headed ruling underscores the critical importance of a President's appointments to the Supreme Court and a Justice Department's commitment to civil rights enforcement. It is the but the latest in a string of decisions by this conservative bloc of Justices that turn back the clock on decades of advancement and progress in the struggle for equality. Chief Justice Robert's opinion reflects a disturbing view of the Constitution that equates voluntary integration with Jim Crow segregation - a view that is both legally and morally wrong. The policies that led to racially diverse schools in Seattle and Louisville are a far cry from the policies of racial subordination that led to blacks-only and whites-only schools in the pre-Brown era. To equate the two is to turn a blind eye to our nation's history."

"I filed a brief in these cases, along with several of my colleagues in the Senate, which explained to the Court that a racially diverse learning environment has a profoundly positive educational impact on all students, and I remain devoted to working toward this goal. The Congress has the constitutional power and responsibility to address the resegregation of our schools, and I am committed to using that authority. I will immediately call for hearings to determine the most effective steps that Congress can take to move forward. And as President, I will appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the constitutional importance of Brown. Those Justices will ultimately vindicate Brown's promise, as Justice Breyer and today's dissenters put it, of 'one law, one Nation, one people, not simply as a matter of legal principle but in terms of how we actually live.'"

Barack Obama, Obama: Supreme Court ruling an obstacle to opportunity Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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