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Supreme Court to consider public school race cases, old criminal sentences

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday granted certiorari in a case that will decide how much public schools can consider race in public school admissions assignments. The Court will hear appeals in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District [docket], and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education [docket]. In Parents, the Ninth Circuit upheld [text, PDF] a school policy allowing a Seattle school board to use race as a tiebreaker for admission to schools with more applicants than seats in a school. Parents Involved in Community Schools challenged the Seattle districting plan and appealed the Ninth Circuit decision based on Grutter v. Bollinger [text], a 2003 Supreme Court decision allowing public universities to consider race, in part, in their admissions process. In Meredith, the Sixth Circuit upheld [text, PDF] a student assignment plan used by public schools in Jefferson County, Kentucky, which includes racial guidelines implemented in 2001 after a court-mandated desegregation order from 1974 had ended. AP has more.

The Supreme Court Monday also granted certiorari in a case that will decide whether prisoners can reopen challenges to their prison sentences based on the court's ruling two years ago in Blakely v. Washington [text, PDF], which limited judges' discretion in criminal sentencing. Burton v. Waddington [docket], 05-9222, involves the 47-year prison sentence of a man convicted in Washington state for rape, robbery and burglary, and will likely decide whether Blakely should be applied retroactively. Burton had an appeal pending when his case was resolved by the Blakely decision. Attorneys for Burton challenge the Ninth Circuit denial [PDF] of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the state judge increased Burton's sentence by 21 years, stating that Burton deserved a harsher sentence. AP has more. Read the Court's full Order List [PDF]. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.

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