Journal of Religious Ethics 6 (2):137 - 163 (1978)

The authors relate the major groups involved in the desegregation of Boston's public schools to divergent understandings of rights in America's political and religious traditions. After an initial historical review, the authors suggest that the desegregation controversy may be understood as a conflict between a natural law theory of rights which requires remedial action to correct injustices and a traditionalist theory which sanctions prevailing liberties. In Boston, one natural law position is represented by black parents and the Federal court's desegregation orders. Another position is represented by many white parents, who base their opposition to desegregation on a traditionalist notion of natural law. The authors suggest that any permanent resolution of the conflict must address these divergent understandings of natural law, as well as the political realities peculiar to Boston.
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