Crawford v. Board of Education 458 U.S. 527 (1982) Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1 458 U.S. 457 (1982)
CRAWFORD v. BOARD OF EDUCATION 458 U.S. 527 (1982) WASHINGTON v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 458 U.S. 457 (1982)
By statewide votes, both Washington and California sought to limit the use of school busing for purposes of desegregation. a 1978 washington initiative effectively prohibited school boards from assigning children to public schools outside their residential neighborhoods for purposes of racial integration. A 1979 amendment to the California Constitution prohibited state courts from ordering school busing unless busing would be available in a federal court as a remedy for a violation of the fourteenth amendment. The Supreme Court sustained the California measure, 8–1, but held the Washington measure invalid, 5–4.
In the Seattle case, Justice harry a. blackmun wrote for the majority. Following the precedent of hunter v. erickson (1969), he concluded that the Washington law placed a special burden on racial minorities, using an issue's racial nature to define the local decision-making structure. For the dissenters, Justice lewis f. powell argued that the Washington law had not altered the political process at all, but had merely adopted a neighborhood school policy—something a local school board itself remained free to do, within the limits of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Justice Powell wrote for the Court in the Crawford case. The California courts had previously read the state constitution to forbid de facto as well as de jure school segregation. There was, however, no "ratchet" principle in the Fourteenth Amendment; the state could constitutionally adopt federal equal protection standards. The amendment, Powell said, was not adopted with a racially discriminatory purpose; it chiefly reflected a choice for the neighborhood school policy. Justice thurgood marshall, dissenting, considered the two cases indistinguishable. Indeed, the opinions of Justice Powell in the two cases bear marked similarities; yet, if Hunter be taken as the critical precedent, the distinction is supportable. A line is none the worse for being thin.
Kenneth L. Karst