2007_06_brownvsbd.jpgShowing how divided its philosophies are, Supreme Court justices ruled, 5-4, to limit the power cities have integrating schools and placing students by race. Schools in Louisville, Kentucky and Seattle, Washington had been trying to maintain diversity by, as the NY Times explains, "limiting transfers on the basis of race or using race as a 'tiebreaker' for admission to particular schools." However, the majority found those programs to be unconstitutional and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

The wrinkle in the majority is that Justice Anthony Kennedy felt Roberts' decision was "all-too-unyielding" and suggested local officials could consider race: "Fifty years of experience since Brown v. Board of Education should teach us that the problem before us defies so easy a solution. School districts can seek to reach Brown’s objective of equal educational opportunity." And while Roberts' said the majority opinion held tenets of Brown Vs. the Board of Education, lawyers for Brown say he's not getting the point.

The ruling doesn't affect the NYC's Department of Education too much, except now it may be able to challenge integration rules at two schools that were put into place over three decades ago. It's unclear what will happen with the 11-year-old South Asian girl who was denied attendance to one of those schools, the Mark Twain School (IS 239) in Brooklyn, based on her race, but her dad said the Supreme Court ruling was "awesome."

More: The Library of Congress on Brown Vs. the Board of Education; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer explains how "racial tie-breakers" came to be; Slate's discussion about the ruling; and Washington Post analysis on how the Court has moved to the right.