"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote for the majority in an opinion that addressed integration plans in public schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle.
The five-justice majority found that the school districts had "failed to provide the necessary support for the proposition that there is no other way than individual racial classifications to avoid racial isolation in their school districts."
The ruling came on the final day of the high court's term.
Roberts said the ruling remained true to "Brown vs. Board of Education," which barred school districts from segregating students on the basis of race.
But in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said that assertion was a "cruel irony" involving "one of this Court's most important decisions."
The court struck down the integration plans 5-4.