Briefs in the race-based student assignment cases

I just happened to read the petitioner's brief in Meredith v. Jefferson County Bd. of Ed., one of two cases to be argued next month presenting the question whether public schools may voluntarily use race in student assignments as a means of achieving racial integration. The brief, filed on behalf of the mother of a five-year old who was denied a request to transfer from one elementary school to another, is - - how shall I put this politely? - - utterly incompetent. I do not exaggerate. Here is the core of the argument from the brief (which itself is barely 9 pages in total):

"The race-conscious, hard-core, mechanical quota Student Assignent Plan of the JCPS seeks to fix a number of desirable minority students to insulate one group of applicants from another. For the Student Assignent Plan of the JCPS to be defined as anything other than a hard-core,
mechanized quota, there must have been a finding by the trial court that Joshua Ryan McDonald was denied entrance into his neighborhood school for a reason other than he was White. That simply is not the case. Race was the make or break test!"

Luckily for the petitioner, the Solicitor General has filed a supporting amicus brief that presents the arguments professionally, and will split the oral argument with petitioner's lawyer. But that lawyer, who for all I know is highly skilled before a jury, simply has no business arguing before the Supreme Court in a case of great national import. That we permit such advocacy seems to me part of the price we pay for the continued fiction that the Supreme Court resolves concrete cases or controversies rather than abstract legal questions, as in European-style constitutional courts that openly permit such abstract review.