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NAACP Legal Defense Fund Compares Michigan cases to Brown v. Board Promise of Brown not yet realized; affirmative action still necessary

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Friday, June 27, 2003

Reacting to the Supreme Court decision in favor of affirmative action, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) said at an audio news conference on Wednesday that a ffirmative action is not in danger. LDF hailed the Supreme Court's ruling in the Michigan affirmative action cases as a victory. Elaine R. Jones, President and Director-Counsel of LDF, and Theodore M. Shaw, LDF's associate director-counsel, compared the Michigan cases to Brown v. Board of Education , the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in public schools.

Jones said, "Those against affirmative action are putting on their game face to show that their loss is not as profound as it is. The Supreme Court has spoken. They have recognized that we are not a colorblind society. We are far from it, and we don't solve issues of injustice and inequality by pretending they don't exist."

Ms. Jones also said, "Justice O'Connor's opinion really talks in terms that we as Americans can understand about the value of education today. O'Connor cited Brown v. Board of Education. And she said that, 'This court has long recognized that education is the very foundation of good citizenship,' which is a quote from Brown. And then she said, 'For this reason, the diffusion of knowledge and opportunities through public institutions of higher education must be acceptable to all individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity.'"

Shaw hailed the Michigan rulings, saying, "The Michigan rulings are a definitive win. Period. Technically, it was a split decision, but at the end of the day, that is just a detail. With this ruling, affirmative action is on firmer ground."

In comparing Michigan and Brown, Shaw said, "The Michigan cases and affirmative action represented the vehicle by which to keep the promise of Brown alive and in play, that is to say to open up the doors of educational opportunity and to keep them open. ?So those who supported affirmative action in the Michigan cases are the ideological and intellectual descendants of the advocates in Brown v. Board of Education for desegregation."

Shaw continued, "But the massive inequality that we see, in spite of all the important progress we've made since Brown , demonstrates that the work is still not done. That, I think, at the end of the day, is the core underlying reason that Justice O'Connor and the other four justices went the way they did. They know that the work isn't done. Whether we call it diversity or whether we call it remedial basis, affirmative action is still necessary."