Law: Is The Court Turning Right?

By reopening a civil rights case, the Justices send a signal

Ever since it outlawed public school segregation in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court has been on the cutting edge of civil rights advances. Now, however, the Justices may be on the verge of a historic rollback. In an unusual move, the court last week considered whether to overturn its 1976 ruling in Runyon v. McCrary, a key civil rights decision. That possibility prompted a flood of briefs from Senators, Congressmen, state attorneys general and civil rights groups urging the court not to overrule Runyon.

The intense public interest went beyond the issue of racial discrimination. What seemed to hang in the...

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