In SCHUETTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN v COALITION TO DEFEND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, INTEGRATION AND IMMIGRATION RIGHTS AND FIGHT FOR EQUALITY BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, the U.S. Supreme Court just affirmed, 6-2, Michigan’s right to ban state affirmative action programs. The decision was narrow, not taking up the issue of affirmative action itself, but rather affirming the right of the citizens of the state to ban it at the ballot box.
You should read the decision here, and not let journalists distort it for you. My favorite quotes:
- “The question here, as in every case in which neutral state action is said to deny equal protection on account of race, is whether the challenged action reflects a racially discriminatory purpose. It plainly does not.”
- “In cautioning against “impermissible racial stereotypes,” this Court has rejected the assumption that “members of the same racial group—regardless of their age, education, economic status, or the community in which they live— think alike, share the same political interests, and will prefer the same candidates at the polls.”
- “But in a society in which those lines are becoming more blurred, the attempt to define race-based categories also raises serious questions of its own. Government action that classifies individuals on the basis of race is inherently suspect and carries the danger of perpetuating the very racial divisions the polity seeks to transcend.”
- “Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.”
- “That history demands that we continue to learn,to listen, and to remain open to new approaches if we are to aspire always to a constitutional order in which all persons are treated with fairness and equal dignity. Were the Court to rule that the question addressed by Michigan voters is too sensitive or complex to be within the grasp of the electorate; or that the policies at issue remain too delicate to be resolved save by university officials or faculties, acting at some remove from immediate public scrutiny and control; or that these matters are so arcane that the electorate’s power must be limited because the people cannot prudently exercise that power even after a full debate, that holding would be an unprecedented restriction on the exercise of a fundamental right held not just by one person but by all in common. It is the right to speak and debate and learn and then, as a matter of political will, to act through a lawful electoral process.”
The decision was necessary, and in its results, ethical. The remarkable complaints of the dissenters illustrate this. “I cannot ignore the unfortunate outcome of today’s decision: Short of amending the State Constitution, a Herculean task, racial minorities in Michigan are deprived of even an opportunity to convince Michigan’s public colleges and universities to consider race in their admissions plans when other attempts to achieve racial diversity are unnecessarily hobbled in their pursuit of a diverse student body,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. The other dissenter, Justice Ginsberg, said that he decision “eviscerates” the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee that government should not make it harder for minorities to participate in self-government.
To Sotomayer’s observation, the correct response is “Good.” No student, white or black or any other color, should lose a place in college because of race. The statute under consideration banned “preferential treatment” based on race, gender or ethnicity in state education, employment or contracting. Another way to say “preferential treatment” is “discrimination,” or “bias.” Ginsberg’s assertion that a minority or a majority should have the ability to warp public policy and law to favor their own ethnic or racial group over others, and to prohibit that is a violation of Equal Protection is no less than Orwellian. Whites cannot make laws favoring their race, and properly so. Ethics Hero status is due Justice Breyer for having the integrity to break ranks with the Court’s often lock-step liberal wing.
I await the distortions and rationalizations soon to emit from columnist Eugene Robinson, Harold Mayerson and others, as well as the race-baiters at MSNBC. They should be foaming at the mouth about now.