- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2001

The Supreme Court tomorrow will consider a plea from New York's fourth-largest city that it block a court order that would relocate white families into black neighborhoods so the racial mix will meet federal quotas.

"I'm not aware of any case, any court order, any voluntary program that involves this kind of overt requirement designed to achieve a certain racial balance in a neighborhood," said Raymond P. Fitzpatrick Jr., who has represented the city of Yonkers, N.Y., for 10 years.

The race-based order by U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand came as a "last resort" when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People accused Yonkers of resisting desegregation of neighborhoods. The NAACP also complained that 30 percent of families in city-subsidized housing were white — too high a number, even though the city's population is two-thirds white.

"The NAACP simply objected to white participation. They want 100 percent. They want complete exclusion of whites from the program unless a white family moves to one of the few minority blocks in Yonkers," said Mr. Fitzpatrick.

"This case is really cutting edge and gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to talk about whether a federal judge has the authority to order the racial balancing of neighborhoods, which is a pretty scary prospect," he said in an interview yesterday.

NAACP lawyer Michael H. Sussman was in court yesterday and did not return a call, but associate Stephen Bergstein said Mr. Sussman "believes that the Supreme Court won't hear the case."

Black and Hispanic families participating in an affordable-housing program had 1,419 census blocks to choose from for relocation, while white applicants were restricted to just the 28 census blocks where white population is less than 45 percent.

The city is 13 percent black, two-thirds white, with the rest Hispanic and other races.

Before Theodore Olson, President Bush's nominee as solicitor general, was sworn in June 11, holdover lawyers from the Clinton administration filed the government's legal brief advising the high court to reject the Yonkers appeal, which they term "a poor vehicle for addressing any of the broader doctrinal issues" the city raised.

Mr. Olson did not respond yesterday to a request to speak about the case. The solicitor general's office rarely discusses cases before the high court.

The Yonkers appeal is the culmination of a 15-year crusade by the NAACP to desegregate the area's schools and, by extension, city housing, in response to racial residential patterns in the city of 200,000 just north of New York City.

The government brief — co-signed by Barbara D. Underwood, a Clinton political appointee who was acting solicitor general, and William R. Yeomans, acting assistant attorney general — said the court chose racially based remedies because the city resisted alternative race-neutral plans for 15 years.

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