Friday, August 12, 2005

John Roberts and Educating Immigrant Kids

The LA Times reports today that a newly released memo shows that John Roberts opposed the 1982 Supreme Court decision that overturned a Texas law that barred undocumented immigrants from attending public schools. Roberts, who was working as a lawyer for the Justice Department at the time, had this to say about the decision:

"It is our belief that a brief filed by the Solicitor General's office supporting the State of Texas — and the values of judicial restraint — could well have … altered the outcome," Roberts and Kuhl said. "In sum, this is a case in which our supposed litigation program to encourage judicial restraint did not get off the ground and should have."

Roberts' opposition to this case will probably be discussed in terms of his views on judicial restraint (and it should be). But it's also important to look at the case itself and what Roberts' opposition to it means (and could mean if he is confirmed by the Senate). It scares me that we might have a Supreme Court Justice who would seek to prevent the government from intervening to make sure that the children of undocumented immigrants are allowed to go to school. Public school should be open to all children, regardless of who their parents are, because it embodies what is so great about this country - everyone is given a chance to succeed (public school education doesn't give everyone the same chance, of course). If we don't allow undocumented immigrant kids to go to public school, we are ensuring the creation of a permanent underclass of unskilled, low-wage workers in this country.

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