Bizarre. This morning on NPR's Weekend Edition: a sociologist tries to explain to Linda Wertheimer, without using the word "segregation," that the relief workers will be intentionally racially segregating the emergency shelters. I think the link is here.Has everyone forgotten about Johnson v. California, a case the Supreme Court issued back in February?
She's going on about how people want to be with their own "cultural group" and how tensions will be lower that way. This may or may not be true, but what's interesting to me is the linguistic somersaults she's putting herself through to avoid saying "we will segregate the shelters."
The Supreme Court ruled ... that California must abandon its policy of assigning inmates to racially segregated cells for as long as 60 days when they arrive at new prisons -- unless the state can prove it has no race-neutral way to prevent interracial violence.I wonder what the civil rights cases coming out of Katrina will look like. If the issue of segregating refugee shelters worked its way up to the Supreme Court, would the Johnson dissenting view prevail?
A five-justice majority rejected the state's contention that the court should defer to the judgment of the corrections officials who deemed the unwritten policy necessary to prevent members of race-based gangs from turning on one another in two-man cells. The state also argued that its policy affects members of all races equally. The court said California's policy must withstand the same "strict scrutiny" as all other racial classifications.
"We rejected the notion that separate can ever be equal . . . 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education, and we refuse to resurrect it today," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in an opinion that was joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.
"When government officers are permitted to use race as a proxy for gang membership and violence without demonstrating a compelling government interest and proving that their means are narrowly tailored, society as a whole suffers," O'Connor added.
[Justice Stevens, writing separately, took an even stronger anti-segregation position.]
Justice Clarence Thomas said the majority put concern for the "indignity and stigma of racial discrimination" ahead of inmates' "safety and . . . lives."John Roberts will have replaced Justice O'Connor (unless something very strange happens), but the Johnson majority would still have five votes. It will be interesting to see what effect transformed microcosmic society of the Court will have on Anthony Kennedy.
In a 28-page dissenting opinion that was nearly twice as long as the majority opinion, Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, said California authorities need latitude to deal with such gangs as the Crips and the Aryan Brotherhood. Its policy, he wrote, "is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests."