The Supreme Court: Politicizing Justice
The case, Fisher v.
The timing of this decision appears to be part of the concerted campaign against racial justice launched by conservative Republicans. Republicans, as the primaries show, have made themselves into a virtually monochromatic white party. So, in states across the country, Republicans have launched systematic campaigns to suppress the black and Latino vote - requiring official photo ID, limiting voting periods, closing the polls on Sunday and more.
They have used their control of states in reapportionment to pack minority voters into as few districts as possible, while expanding the number of all-white districts.
And they've begun to try out new forms of race-bait politics - claiming that the housing crisis resulted from the federal government forcing banks to make loans to unqualified African-Americans and Latinos, turning unemployment insurance into welfare, and suggesting that the unemployed are shirkers. And now, the
UT has a long history in this terrain. In the 1990s, the
In 2003, however, the
It is striking that affirmative action attracts the challenge here. In fact, universities have many categories for admission. For example, why don't legacies - the longstanding policies that enable the children of alumni (particularly wealthy alumni) to gain favor in admission - get the scrutiny?
Or why not the favors bestowed on good athletes or musicians? Or the foreign students willing to pay full fare out of state tuitions? All of these gain "points" on admission criteria as well.
The argument for affirmative action is apparent. During 150 years of slavery and 100 years of segregation, American schools discriminated against African-Americans. There are few African-American "legacy" students because their parents were barred from admission. Despite obvious advances, racial bias still pervades our society. African-American children grow up disproportionately in poverty. They go to schools that still suffer what
Moreover, the country has a great stake in insuring that our universities broadly reflect the society they serve. Diversity can and must be the strength of America - but only if it is nurtured throughout our society. No student should be admitted who is unqualified to succeed in a school, but a racially diverse campus is more important than good athletic teams or skilled orchestras or happy alums.
A century ago, conservative justices interpreted the civil rights amendments as justifying segregation. Now they seek to use the law to once more harm the very people the amendments were designed to protect.
This inversion will not be accepted quietly.
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