US Court of Appeals Rules on Students Doe vs. LMSD
December 15th, 2011
Yesterday, the 3rd Circuit, US Court of Appeals rendered it’s decision in Students Doe vs. LMSD. The panel of three judges found that, while race was indeed a factor in the plan, the use of racial demographic information in the plans’ formulation did not violate the Constitution nor was it an impermissible use. As such, the Panel found that the correct standard of review was not Strict Scrutiny, as was used in the District Court, but rather the rational basis standard of review. Under that standard, the plan stands.
Plaintiffs Doe released this statement today:
“The plaintiffs are studying the Court’s decision and contemplating their next steps. It is important to note that the Circuit Court’s ruling confirms the earlier District Court’s findings that race was indeed a motivating factor in Lower Merion’s redistricting plan. Moreover, the school district’s extensive deliberations regarding race occurred in secret, behind closed doors, rather than in public forums. The Court nevertheless concluded that these racial motivations did not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Two other facts are noteworthy. First, the three justices in this decision could not agree on the appropriate standard of legal review, and one of them explicitly calls for clarification from the US Supreme Court. Second, two recent rulings from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals are contradictory with respect to this ruling, raising further questions about the constitutionality of such race-based governmental decision making.
The plaintiffs will be considering these facts in their deliberations regarding next steps.”