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Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Louisville School District

Authors: Albert H. Kauffman, The Civil Rights Project
Date Published: November 10, 2004

In November 2004, The Civil Rights Project filed an Amicus Curiae brief in support of the Louisville School District. CRP’s brief focuses both on the social science research on the issue of the educational and social benefits of desegregation, and on the extensive record developed on the benefits of the Louisville plan in particular. The brief also argues that the Louisville plan is narrowly tailored and that the standards for considering narrow tailoring in the K-12 context should more carefully fit the realities of K-12 education.
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Summary of Argument:

The District Court correctly upheld the constitutionality of the Jefferson County Board of Education’s student assignment plan (the “2001 Plan”).  The court’s conclusion that promoting racial diversity and reducing racial isolation in the Jefferson County public 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 integrated student bodies and the harms of racially segregated learning environments.

Among the many benefits that accrue from racial diversity in the student body are increased academic achievement, greater educational and occupational aspirations and success, improved cross-racial understanding, a stronger sense of civic engagement, and an increased desire and ability to live and work in settings with members of multiple racial groups.  The school district and broader community also benefit from an increased ability to compete effectively with private schools, an improved racial climate, and greater community support and participation.

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.  The school district and community as a whole can suffer when schools are perceived as unrepresentative and racially segregated.

Research studies and evidence introduced in the court below also support the District Court’s conclusion that the 2001 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, and because there is no undue harm to students who do not receive their school of choice.  The Jefferson Plan is flexible in its efforts to maintain a minority student presence at each school that is sufficient for successful integration, and differences in test scores between schools do not accurately reflect on the quality of education that a given student has received.   Differences in context also strongly suggest that the standards for narrow tailoring in higher education, especially the requirement for individualized review, should be reconsidered in the context of elementary and secondary education.

The judgment of the district court should be affirmed. 


In compliance with the UC Open Access Policy, this amicus brief has been made available on eScholarship:

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