President Bollinger Assesses Supreme Court Decisions in Seattle and Louisville Public School Cases

June 28, 2007

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision today to limit the use of voluntary school desegregation plans in Parents Involved in Community Schools Inc. v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County ( Ky.) Board of Education:

“It may be too early to tell whether these two decisions represent the first act of a national tragedy of withdrawal from the historic and unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The goal of racial integration inaugurated by Brown has been among the noblest of America’s ambitions. The need for steadfast commitment to achieving this goal has been reinforced by numerous decisions of the Court over the past half century. The two narrowly decided cases today seem, sadly, to represent a new course and a significant impairment of the commitment of Brown.”

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, a former dean of the law school and president of the University of Michigan, was the named defendant in the twin Supreme Court cases – Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) – which respectively affirmed and clarified diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action.