Warren's first law review article criticized Supreme Court anti-busing ruling: report

Warren's first law review article criticized Supreme Court anti-busing ruling: report
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWhat a Biden administration should look like Overnight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls MORE (D-Mass.) sharply criticized a Supreme Court ruling against busing in her first law review article published more than 40 years ago.

In her 1975 article for the Rutgers Law Review, Warren denounced a Supreme Court ruling in the Milliken v. Bradley case, writing that the decision made it easier for school districts to forgo busing students in northern U.S. cities, CNN’s KFILE reported Saturday.

The ruling maintained that a majority-black school district could not bus students from majority-white suburban districts to desegregate schools unless suburban districts were also engaged in illegal segregation practices.


In her article, Warren wrote that de facto segregation, which occurs as a result of social norms, prejudices and self-selection, and de jure segregation, which existed because of laws mandating racial segregation, had been silently "reaffirm[ed]" by the court’s ruling, predicting that such segregation would dominate public schools, CNN reported.

“Effectively separate schools, even if equal, and certainly if unequal, are condemned by the Constitution, regardless of the reason for the separation,” Warren wrote.

Warren wrote that the ruling, along with another that upheld the state system of funding public schools by local taxes, would "lead to central-city schools which are inferior in facilities, student-teacher ratios, and other educational advantages because the funding is not commensurate with that available for suburban schools."

Warren wrote at the time that the decision "could thus be the 'separate and unequal' schools" and called on Congress to "develop a judicial remedy for urban school segregation."

Warren's communications director, Kristen Orthman, told CNN that the senator and 2020 hopeful still stands by what she wrote decades ago as well as legislation to "support voluntary local efforts to increase racial diversity and socioeconomic diversity."

"In addition, if localities are not taking action to desegregate schools, Elizabeth believes the federal government has a constitutional obligation to step in to deliver on the promise of Brown v. Board, including, if necessary, busing," Orthman said.

A Warren campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Warren's stance on busing contrasts sharply with that of Democratic front-runner Joe BidenJoe BidenHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline Overnight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings MORE during the same period.

"Nobody is more committed to equal educational opportunity than I," Biden told The Morning News, a Wilmington newspaper, in 1977, according to KFILE. "But busing is not the way. It was a bad idea in theory, and it has turned out to be even worse in practice."

Another CNN KFILE investigation found that the former vice president reportedly said in an interview nearly 40 years ago that he was against busing to racially integrate schools and that the practice was the "least effective remedy" for segregation.

Biden doubled down on his position in an interview with CNN this week, saying his position against federally mandated busing was "taken out of context" by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTrump fights for battleground Arizona Biden to air 90-minute radio programs targeting Black voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's big battleground | Trump and Harris hit the trail in Arizona | Turnout surges among new voters MORE (D-Calif.) during the first Democratic presidential debate last week.

Harris tore into Biden during the Democratic debate for his previous stance on busing, describing how she benefited from the practice as a schoolgirl in Berkeley, Calif.

"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day," Harris said at one point to Biden. "That little girl was me."

Biden called Harris's criticism a "mischaracterization" of his views. He defended his views following the debate, saying on MSNBC later that he "supported busing to eliminate de jure segregation."