Democratic School Desegregation: Lessons from Election Law

53 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2015

Date Written: September 21, 2015


Despite their joint relevance to democracy, no article to date has attempted to analyze election law alongside education law. This Article examines the relationship between the doctrinal threads of these bodies of law. From this study, this Article concludes that, while election law is imbued with democratic principles to guide courts and policymakers — such as the one-person one-vote principle — education law is not guided by any such democratic principles. Additionally, while electoral boundaries are viewed as malleable under federal law, school district boundaries are not. In light of these doctrinal differences, and in light of the importance of education to democracy, this Article advocates a policy of democratic school desegregation based on a principle focused on reducing socioeconomic isolation in schools. This democratic principle, referred to in this Article as the 60/40 principle, has the ultimate goal of ensuring that no child in the United States attends a school with a low-income student majority. Under this principle, school district boundaries are not sacrosanct and may be adjusted as a last resort to achieve the ideals of democratic school desegregation.

Keywords: civil rights, educational equality, desegregation, integration, socioeconomic integration

Suggested Citation

Suarez, Christopher Alan, Democratic School Desegregation: Lessons from Election Law (September 21, 2015). Penn State Law Review, Vol. 119, No. 3, 2015, Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Alan Suarez (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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