Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made it sound so simple that day in 2007, when he and four other members of the Supreme Court declared that this city’s efforts to desegregate its schools violated the Constitution.
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” Roberts wrote, “is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
But life has been anything but simple for school officials here. They have steadfastly – or stubbornly, depending on the point of view – tried to maintain integrated classrooms despite the court’s command that officials not consider race when assigning children to schools.
Consultants were hired, lawyers retained, census data scrubbed, boundaries redrawn, more buses bought, more routes proposed, new school choices offered and more lawsuits defended.