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Amicus Curiae Brief in Comfort v. Lynn School Committe

Authors: Angelo N. Ancheta, The Civil Rights Project
Date Published: July 28, 2004

The Civil Rights Project filed a brief in June 2004 in support of the Lynn School Committee and state defendants in the case of Comfort v. Lynn School Committee, a challenge to the voluntary integration plan in Lynn, Massachusetts that is currently on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
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The district court below correctly upheld the constitutionality of the Lynn School Committee’s Voluntary Plan for School Improvement and the Elimination of Racial Isolation.  In particular, the district court’s conclusion that promoting racial diversity and reducing racial isolation in the Lynn schools are compelling governmental interests is well supported by both the expert testimony introduced at trial and numerous research studies documenting the benefits of racially diverse student bodies and the harms of racially segregated learning environments.  Among the many benefits that accrue from student body diversity are increased academic achievement, greater educational and occupational aspirations, more cross-racial understanding, a stronger sense of civic engagement, and an increased desire to live and work in settings with members of multiple racial groups. Among the harms associated with racial isolation and segregated learning environments are adverse effects on school attendance and performance, stereotyping and racial hostility, decreased opportunities to learn from members of other racial groups, and poorer preparation to address interracial contexts as adults.  Research studies also support the district court’s conclusion that the Lynn Plan is narrowly tailored because of the necessity of employing race-conscious policies in attaining student bodies that can promote the benefits of racial diversity and prevent the harms of racial isolation.


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