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Moot Court: Seattle School District #1

Danielle Toaltoan '07 and Michael Drezner '07
Danielle Toaltoan '07 and Michael Drezner '07

Danielle Toaltoan '07 and Michael Drezner '07 relaxed after having been adversaries in the moot court case of Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, pending at the time before the U.S. Supreme Court. Toaltoan and Drezner were both students in a constitutional law honors seminar taught by Professor Carol Nackenoff in Political Science.

Students in Seattle could ask to be assigned to particular schools, and the central question at issue in the case was whether racial balance could be considered as a deciding factor in school assignment when schools were overenrolled. Toaltoan argued on behalf of Seattle and Drezner argued for the parents challenging the use of race. In a decision delivered by Chief Justice Peter Gardner '08, the Court determined that the University of Michigan affirmative action cases of Grutter and Gratz did apply to this situation and that Seattle could not use a racial quota as its means of achieving diversity. The decision was rather close to that reached by the U.S. Supreme Court when it ultimately handed down the decision at the end of its term in June, 2007.

The following week, students in the seminar had a chance to argue a federal partial birth abortion case that was also pending before the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, students in Professor Nackenoff's Constitutional Law course were preparing to argue two cases. One was an appeal of the U.S. Circuit Court's recent decision striking down Washington,D.C.'s ban on handguns as contrary to the Second Amendment and the other was pending case of Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, involving a taxpayer challenge to spending by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Honors Students who argued Massachusetts v. E.P.A. last semester were surprised and generally pleased with the outcome of the case in the Supreme Court, announced during the students' spring term.