Supreme Court Justices to Examine Lower Merion Case

Plaintiffs allege the school district redistricted with race in mind. Lower courts ruled in the district's favor.

Among the case files the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices examine June 14 will be an appeal from several Lower Merion families accusing the school district of trying to orchestrate artificial racial balance in redistricting its school populations, according to court records.

The justices will also read a rebuttal from the district—in whose favor the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in December—before deciding whether to schedule the case for a hearing. The Lower Merion case was on Tuesday's list of cases "distributed for conference" June 14.

At issue is the district's decision in 2009 to shift part of Ardmore from Lower Merion High School's enrollment area into Harriton High School's, purportedly to equalize the two schools' populations. The families of students who subsequently sued the district questioned the motives behind splitting one of the more predominantly black areas of the township to split.

Representatives of "Students Doe" want the Supreme Court to hear the case, and the school district does not. The district's May 16 filing emphasized that school officials exhaustively considered all ramifications of different redistricting options, with community input, and that both the Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court ruled its plan provided "equal protection".

The petitioners responded May 25, pointing out as "deeply troubling" the section of the district's filing that mentions how some school officials were concerned about the prospect of having disproportionately more black students at one high school than the other.

If the justices don't decide June 14 to select the case for a hearing, it would not preclude the case being "distributed for conference" again and considered another time.

Where do you stand on this issue? Tell us in the comments.


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