This Article critically evaluates the widely held view inside and outside the United States that American constitutional rights jurisprudence is exceptional. There are two dimensions to this perceived American exceptionalism: the content and the structure of constitutional rights. On content, the claim focuses mainly on the age, brevity, and terseness of the text and on the unusually high value attributed to free speech. On structure, the claim is primarily threefold. First, the United States has a more categorical conception of constitutional rights than other countries. Second, the United States has an exceptionally sharp public/private division in the scope of constitutional rights resulting in their lesser reach into private conduct. Third, the U.S. Constitution is exclusively a charter of negative rights and so rejects the types of positive constitutional rights, including social and economic rights, that many other modern constitutions recognize.
A Narrow Path to Diversity: The Constitutionality of Rezoning Plans and Strategic Site Selection of Schools After Parents Involved
Justice Kennedy’s concurrence in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District Number 1 raised an important and timely constitutional issue: whether the Constitution permits K–12 public school districts not under existing desegregation orders to use site selection of new schools or rezoning plans to achieve racial diversity. Numerous scholars and journalists have interpreted Justice Kennedy’s concurrence as explicitly answering the question in the affirmative. This Note argues that the opposite is true. Justice Kennedy’s past jurisprudence, as well as his language in Parents Involved, favors the use of strict scrutiny.