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A ProPublica examination shows that officials in scores of school districts do not know the status of their desegregation orders, have never read them, or erroneously believe that orders have been ended. In many cases, orders have gone unmonitored, sometimes for decades, by the federal agencies charged with enforcing them.
Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the 1970s become the most integrated, largely as a result of federal court orders. But since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa’s—back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades.
Depending on your politics and the direction of the latest ruling at any given time, the court has been either radically activist in expanding civil rights or radically activist in stepping on the legislative branch to restrict these rights.
Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the outcry against an activist court rang anew. Many criticized the ruling as an extreme example of judicial overreach. They said the 5-4 decision that broke down along ideological lines trumped Congress’ expansive constitutional authority to enact legislation to enforce the amendments guaranteeing black Americans the right to vote and equal protection under the law.
Nearly 60 years after that Supreme Court victory, which changed the nation, conservatives freely admit they have stolen that page from the NAACP's legal playbook as they attempt to roll back many of the civil rights group's landmark triumphs.
In 23-year-old Abigail Noel Fisher they've put forward their version of the perfect plaintiff to challenge the use of race in college admissions decisions.
Little doubt exists that the Supreme Court's most conservative justices want to do away with affirmative action and other race-conscious programs. And for months, the public has waited to see if they would do it with one broad decision: The case of a Texas woman who said she was denied admission to the university of her choice because she is white.
But on Monday, with a ruling in the Texas case expected at any time, the nation's highest court announced it would hear another affirmative action case out of Michigan.
Over the past year, Obama administration officials have become increasingly concerned that the high court is preparing to strike down the use of the disparate impact standard in housing cases. In an attempt to dissuade the justices from intervening, the Obama administration is preparing to release a long-stalled federal rule this month that enshrines "disparate impact" in the regulations for enforcing the federal housing law.
The move comes as the Supreme Court, led by its conservative majority, appears set to curtail affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act, two other tent poles of the civil rights movement.
African Americans and Latinos are turned away from homes and apartments millions of times annually because of their race, yet the federal government seldom uses undercover investigations, which are the most effective means of catching biased landlords and real estate agents.
ProPublica decided to evaluate race and income data for Westchester County to determine whether income alone accounts for the high degree of racial segregation experienced by African Americans there.
Despite a court order, HUD hasn’t made wealthy Westchester County — home to President Clinton and Gov. Cuomo — remove barriers to African Americans and Latinos moving in.
The authors of the 1968 Fair Housing Act wanted to reverse decades of government-fostered segregation. But presidents from both parties declined to enforce a law that stirred vehement opposition.
Portland Commissioner Nick Fish called it historic: The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the city’s first fair housing action plan.
Except that it wasn’t historic. And it doesn’t obligate the city to do anything it hadn’t agreed to do already.
Portland housing audit inquiry stalled at state level because neither Fair Housing Council nor Portland has filed complaint
After Portland Commissioner Nick Fish faced criticism last month for failing to act against landlords alleged to have discriminated during a fair housing audit, he forwarded the report to the state's civil rights division as a show of his commitment to enforcing the law. But three weeks later, the state has not opened an investigation or looked into a single case.
That's because neither the city, nor the agency it paid to perform the audit, has submitted the necessary information -- or even filed a complaint -- with the state.
Internal emails show Portland officials and the Fair Housing Council of Oregon never intended to enforce the law against landlords who discriminated against black and Latino testers in a housing audit last year.
The documents also show the agencies charged with protecting renters from discrimination worked to appease the association that represents the rental industry, giving it early access to the audit and offering to let it help shape the public message.
Oregon's Republican Senators have called on Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and Attorney General John Kroger to seek aggressive enforcement of state Fair Housing Laws after a Monday article in The Oregonian revealed that the city had yet to enforce the law against landlords found to have discriminatedagainst black and Latino testers in a housing discrimination audit completed last year.
Portland housing audit finds discrimination in 64 percent of tests; city has yet to act against landlords
In its first-ever audit to test whether black and Latino renters face barriers in the housing market, Portland found that landlords and leasing agents discriminated in 64 percent of 50 tests across the city.
But Portland, which released the results last month, has not gone after the landlords who discriminated or even notified them they were tested, though such discrimination violates local, state and federal fair-housing laws.
Portland Mayor Sam Adams stood before reporters and officials in November to decry how Portland has become "stained" as a national hub for juvenile sex trafficking.
As he spoke, aides passed out a news release with a startling statistic. Portland police, it read, see an average of two cases of child sex trafficking each week.
The problem: It wasn't true.
Lessons learned? What Portland leaders did -- and didn't do -- as people of color were forced to the fringes
As gentrification in the past decade pushed nearly 10,000 people of color -- including Muhammad -- from the city core, Portland officials didn't do enough to protect diversity and even helped gentrification along, community leaders say.
What they did -- and didn't do -- holds lessons as city leaders seek to expand urban renewal farther into North and Northeast Portland and to shape the next 25-year Portland Plan.
Portland, already the whitest major city in the country, has become whiter at its core even as surrounding areas have grown more diverse.
Of 354 census tracts in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, 40 became whiter from 2000 to 2010, according to The Oregonian's analysis of the 2010 Census. Of those, two lie in rural Clackamas County. The 38 others are in Portland.
The city core didn't become whiter simply because lots of white residents moved in, the data show. Nearly 10,000 people of color, mostly African Americans, also moved out.
Jill Ginsberg received some unexpected money after her 89-year-old mother died this year, and found herself reflecting on her mom — a Holocaust survivor deeply scarred by hardships — in unexpected ways.
Ginsberg, a Portland doctor who helped start a free health clinic in Northeast Portland, decided to use some of the money to do good in the world and blog about her encounters each day in October.
It would be a sweet tribute to her mother. And one her mother would abhor.