WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected school assignment plans that take account of students' race in two major public school districts.
The school rulings in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle leave public school systems with a limited arsenal to maintain racial diversity.
The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's other three liberals.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion in which he said race may be a component of school district plans designed to achieve diversity.
He agreed with Roberts that the plans in Louisville and Seattle went too far. He said, however, that to the extent that Roberts' opinion could be interpreted as foreclosing the use of race in any circumstance, "I disagree with that reasoning."
The two school systems in Thursday's decisions employ slightly different methods of taking students' race into account when determining which school they would attend.