Affirmative action is a fraud, a sham, a dirty trick played on the people of the USA in the name of "racial equality" and "fairness". From the getgo, it was a plot by the usual gang of "progressive thinkers" and "anti-racists" to get even with the white people of America for "centuries of oppression of people of colour".
The argument was that African-Americans -- not all vizmins, just the blacks -- weren't getting ahead in society and in life because they were being held back by things like segregated schools. A decade after Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation, blacks were still found to be under-represented in US colleges and universities because, evidently, they couldn't cut the mustard on the admissions tests.
The solution proposed by the guilt-wracked liberals was not to help the poorly educated African-Americans with things like, say, Remedial English, but to make the "Eurocentric" tests easier! When that didn't work, hundreds of "civil rights" laws and regulations were put in place to effect give "minorities" preferential treatment in getting into school, getting government jobs, getting public housing, and so on.
America being the most litigious country on earth, it didn't take long -- about a decade -- for hundreds of lawsuits to be brought challenging this state-mandated reverse discrimination. Eventually one such action reached the United States Supreme Court: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. In that landlmark case, Justice Lewis Powell found "diversity in the classroom" to be "a compelling state interest". So, he said, affirmative action was allowed under the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act.
But, a majority of the justices found, the university's programme went too far, so it was struck down and Mr. Bakke (a white man) was admitted to the U.C.-David medical school. The practical effect of Bakke was that most affirmative action programs continued without change.
But was Bakke a binding precedent -- the law of the land -- or merely a non-binding plurality opinion? In 2003, the majority of the Supreme Court upheld Powell's position in Grutter v. Bollinger. They found that a "race-conscious admissions process that may favor underrepresented minority groups" did not amount to a "quota system", which would have been unconstitutional under Bakke.
However, Chief Justice Rehnquist, joined by three other justices, dissented. He called the University of Michigan Law School's system a thinly veiled and unconstitutional quota system, citing the fact that the percentage of African-American applicants closely mirrored the percentage of African-American applicants that were accepted. Still, the 5-4 decision was hailed by the usual suspects as a victory for progressive thinkers over racists, yada yada yada, and reverse discimination was apparently enshrined as the law of the land.
Last week, however, the Supreme Court appeared to reverse itself. Its just-released decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action upheld the right of the citizens of Michigan to ban race conscious admissions at the state’s colleges and universities, and in many other governmental activities as well.
The phrase which I've emphasized is the key. The Supreme Court is saying, in Schuette, that the final decision as to the necessity for or rightness of schemes like affirmative action rests with the people, not the courts!
Two propositions were accepted by the parties and the Court:
(1) In certain limited circumstances, the constitution permits race-conscious admissions (affirmative action), and
(2) Although the Constitution permits affirmative action it does not require it.
The second proposition means that a public university can decide not to engage in affirmative action, and that a university’s board of trustees or regents can forbid the university it governs from considering a student’s race in the admissions process.
That is essentially what the Court said -- although not so clearly -- in Grutter. Here's how Charles Krauthammer explains it.
Here's how Mr. Krauthammer put it in his syndicated column. "After 36 years since the Bakke case, years of endless pettifoggery — parsing exactly how many spoonfuls of racial discrimination are permitted in exactly which circumstance — the court has its epiphany: Let the people decide. Not our business. We will not ban affirmative action. But we will not impose it, as the Schuette plaintiffs would have us do by ruling that no state is permitted to ban affirmative action." [The emphasis is mine. Walt]
Does this mean that a judicial stake has at last been driven through the heart of affirmative action? Hardly. What is clear, though, is that the majority of Americans (and their British and Canadian cousins) are fed up with anti-white racism. If the majority is allowed to have its say and have its way, as the US Supreme Court now says it should be, the end of reverse discrimination may well be in sight.
Further reading: "Ethnic politics, public opinion forcing a second look at U.S. affirmative action: Two recent Supreme Court decisions throw the ball to state legislatures", a well-balanced analysis by Neil Macdonald on the CBC News website.
Footnote: Walt has just acquired a copy of Charles Krauthammer's latest book, Things That Matter (Crown Forum, 2013). In a blurb on the back cover, David Brooks says that Mr. Krauthammer's writing "transcends the crush of daily events and can be read, with profit, always." Indeed.