Acting swiftly in the wake of the Suprene Court’s ruling in the school integration cases, attorneys for parents in Lynn, Mass., have asked a federal judge in Boston to reopen their challenge to a public school assignment plan similar to those the Justices struck down by a 5-4 vote on June 28. “The Lynn Plan falls squarely within the types of plans barred” by the Court’s decision in the Seattle and Louisville cases, the new filing argued. Technically, it was a Rule 60-b-5 motion to issue a new decision in the case of Comfort, et al., v. Lynn School Committee (District Court-Massachusetts docket 99-11811). The papers were filed Tuesday. (Thanks to April Yee of the Boston Globe for a comprehensive story on the filing and to Howard Bashman of How Appealing blog for the alert.)

In that case, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner had upheld the race-based student assignment plan in Lynn’s public schools, and the First Circuit Court had agreed with that result two years ago. The Supreme Court had denied review of the parents’ appeal (Supreme Court docket 05-348) on Dec. 5, 2005. That, however, was when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor remained on the Court. In June 2006, with Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., newly on the Court, the Justices agreed to review the Seattle and Louisville, Ky., plans. (Shortly after that order, the Lynn parents sought permission to file a rehearing petition, but that was denied.)

The new Lynn motion can be found here.. The legal arguments supporting the motion can be found here. The attorneys added to the file a copy of an amicus brief that state officials in Massachusetts had filed in the Supreme Court in the Seattle and Louisville cases, discussing the similarities between the plans at issue there and the Lynn plan. UPDATE: That brief can now be found here.

Among other arguments the Lynn papers made was that a new attempt to take advantage of the ruling on June 28 could encounter arguments that the Lynn case has already been decided. That, the legal memorandum said, would make those who sued in Lynn “the only school children in American not entitled” to the benefit of the Supreme Court ruling. To leave the existing ruling upholding the plan undisturbed, the attorneys contended, would isolate the pupils in Lynn on “an island to which the Equal Protection principles articulated [in the Seattle-Louisville ruling) would not apply.”

“Given the similarities between the Lynn Plan and the Seattle Plan, and of the similarities in reasoning of the En Bacn Panels of the First and Ninth Circuits in finding those Plans to be constitutional, it can only be said that the Lynn Plan bears the same constitutional defects identified by the Supreme Court,” the document asserted. The rights established on June 28 “should be given effect ‘with all deliberate speed'” in Lynn, it added.

Posted in Everything Else