WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments on school integration, signaled today that they are likely to bar racial guidelines for assigning students to the public schools.
Such a ruling would deal a blow to civil rights lawyers and to school officials nationwide who had hoped to maintain a semblance of classroom integration in cities whose neighborhoods are divided along racial lines.
It would be a major victory for those who have called for "color blind" decision-making by public officials.
At issue today were the integration guidelines adopted by the schools boards in Seattle and Louisville, Ky. They were challenged by parents of the small number of students, most of them white, who were denied their first choice in schools because of race.
All the justices who spoke up during the argument agreed that racial integration is a laudable goal. However, a narrow majority of them, in comments and questions, said the Constitution forbade shifting children from one school to another based on their race.