Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Supreme Court To Hear New Case On Race Based Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider its earlier decision on race-based affirmative action. The new case, Fisher v. University of Texas, involves a white female student who was denied a slot at the flagship campus of the University of Texas because the university's race-conscious admission policy cost her a spot in the freshman class. The Court is going to hear the case during the term that begins in October, which means affirmative action could be an issue in the fall elections.

The Obama administration is supporting Texas in the case and has advised colleges and universities that under a SCOTUS 2003 decision, they may still make race-based decisions on admissions in pursuit of diversity.

The 2003 case, last time the Supreme Court ruled on affirmative action was a 5 to 4 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, where Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote the majority opinion said that the University of Michigan law school could consider race in evaluating applicants, because government has "a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."

Since then, O'Connor has been replaced by Samuel Alito, and new Justice Elena Kagen has recused herself because she was active in supporting the case while she was President Obama's Solicitor General.

The case involves one Abigail Noel Fisher. According to the Texas system, all graduates in the top ten percent of their high school classes qualify fro UT admission. The rest are put into a second group that considers, test scores, community service, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities and yes, race. Fisher fell into the second group and is claiming she was denied a spot in favor of a less qualified student because of her race. Her lawyer is also arguing that UT’s policy of automatically admitting the top 10 percent already brings in percentages of minority students that go far beyond the numbers in question in Grutter v. Bollinger. Around 30 per cent of the students enrolling in the freshman class in question qualified as minority.

A three judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the University of Texas, but the ruling sparked a number of objections from other judges on the 5th Circuit Court to the point where the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

I have always found it ironic that the cure for bigotry in favor of one group was somehow thought to be bigotry and quotas in favor of other groups.Aside from being a clear violation of the Fourteenth Amendment,it is also a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which is still the law of the land.As Abraham Lincoln once famously said, I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored. And of course, what race it happens to be.


amspirnational said...

The original 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights liberal poiticos assured quotas would not be in the offing if the legislation passed --and the hardcore segregationists assured they would. This goes beyond ironic and heralds an ultimate dissolution, if you extrapolate properly.

Anonymous said...

1) an atrocity occurs
2) governing bodies propose a solution to right the wrong
3) solution becomes a pain in the ass
4) one party wants to get rid of it

Israel. Wait, I meant affirmative action.

(btw, I'm pro-Israel 100%, but the parallel always gives me pause when people say blacks don't need aa anymore)

Rob said...

Hello Anonymous,
I have to give you points for some creative thinking. Unfortunately, your analogy doesn't really work, IMO.

Here's why:
1) The 'atrocities' you're speaking of are not comparable in the least. As bad as Jim Crow was, it doesn't compare to the Holocaust. No one put black folks here in America in death camps with the goal of exterminating them and succeeded in killing one third of all blacks in Africa off while the world stood by and watched.

2) While the UN may have voted to to make Israel a state in 1948 out of its collective guilty conscience, lots of Jews were already living there in 1948 and the goal of a Jewish State in the Palestine Mandate was well established in international law long before the Holocaust occurred.

3) The expressed goal of affirmative action was to help eliminate racism and make up for its depredations and effects. While one could argue that those goals have largely been achieved
(for instance,the percentages of people who identify themselves as black in universities and in government employment is far greater than their percentage of the American population), even more to the point is that awarding merit,status, access and perks based solely on race contributes to and creates exactly what affirmative action was designed to help cure...judgment and decisions based on race.

The creation of Israel had nothing to do with preventing anti-semitism as a goal. And while the creation of the State of Israel didn't increase hatred of Jews, it certainly made it acceptable once again as the country actually managed to survive and thrive.

4)Affirmative action was rigorously enforced by the governing body involved, and every aid and assistance was given to those who wished to take advantage of it. This rigorous enforcement made racism relatively indefensible and socially unacceptable. That is another reason it's time is over IMO.

In the case of Israel,the governing body never enforced anything.

The UN did nothing to defend the infant country or enforce its resolution when Israel was attacked by other member states with genocide as their expressed aim. The UN did nothing when the Arab nations forcibly expelled almost one million Jews with little but the clothes on their backs. And when most of those refugees were resettled, they were resettled in Israel at Israel's expense without a penny's help from the UN, in contrast to the Arab refugees of that conflict.

This pattern has continued throughout Israel's entire existence, unlike affirmative action policies. And as I'm sure you'll agree,the lack of enforcement has helped ensure that anti-Semitism is much more socially acceptable today than it was when Israel was created.

There's more, but I think that's enough to show you why I don't think the two situations are comparable.


Anonymous said...

I don't really disagree with points 2-4, but your first point is dangerous. Besides the fact that scores of slaves were raped and/or killed, an atrocity is an atrocity, no matter the number. One can argue over which one was worse (and I certainly wouldn't want to argue one over the other in front of the opposite group), but it is still an atrocity. Do the Armenians deserve less because their genocide wasn't as big as the holocaust? Or the Rwandan genocide? Is that not an atrocity because it wasn't as big? And What about the rein of terror under Stalin? More died there than in the holocaust. Does that cancel out the jews' suffering?

Rob said...

I'm afraid you missed the point on my first argument,Anonymous. Affirmative action did not occur because of slavery,but because of of the residue of the Jim Crow South. And Israel did not 'occur' because of the Holocaust.

Another difference is that even if we are talking about slavery versus the Holocaust, they were fundamentally different in goals and implementation. Here's how:

1)The idea behind the Holocaust was the extermination of a whole people. The idea behind slavery was to get a commodity to sell to those who needed to procure labor.

2) The vast majority of slaves who were killed died during the Middle Passage because of the conditions of 'shipping', and as such represented a loss to those who wanted to sell them. The slavers would have much preferred to bring every slave they could safely to America to sell for profit.

The importing of slaves was ended in 1804 in America, which raised the price of slaves considerably. While some killings occurred after that time, for the most part slaves were simply too valuable a commodity for 'scores' to be killed.

The Nazis, on the other hand simply wanted the Jews dead. They attributed no value to them, had no desire to keep them alive and simply wanted to murder them,man woman and child, as quickly and economically as possible.That's how the gas chambers originated.

3)Ingathering. Unlike the Rwandan and Darfur genocides, the idea was not to simply drive people out of a given territory by force. Nor were there any real political motives, such as Stalin's horrendous Ukrainian genocide.

The slaughter of the Jews, on the other hand, was an actual war aim of the Nazis. It was the unique occurrence of an armed state making war against a civilian people who posed them no actual physical or political threat not to drive them out of a specific territory but to gather every Jew in as efficiently as possibles so they could be murdered.

The closest thing we've seen to this is the Armenian Genocide, a direct inspiration of Hitler' Final Solution according to accounts of the Wanasee Conference where it was hammered out. And even the Armenian Genocide had some political overtones, at least to the Ottomans. But unlike the Nazis, they didn't invade other countries seeking Armenians for the purpose of killing them. They made no effort to murder Armenians in any other part of their empire except Anatolia, and in fact kept many of the Armenians they rounded up, particularly women, as slaves.The idea was to destroy them as a cohesive people and a non-Muslim element in the Empire.

In contrast, the slavers had no interest in killing every slave or even capturing more of them once they had purchased enough from the Arab traders and African chiefs to fill a shipload.

As I said, there's no comparing the two.