It may not have had the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, or the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, but last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court that affirmative action in college admissions violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause is an important advancement toward equality for all.
Reaction to the 6-3 decision has been mostly predictable. Many on the left, including President Biden, moan that it is a setback and they promise to try to circumvent the ruling. The president claimed it is not “a normal court.” To a liberal, normal is only when the court rules in their favor.
Those on the right say discrimination against Asians and others who qualified for admission to Harvard and other elite universities that based admission decisions partly on race are hailing the ruling as just and fair, because they believe a student’s admittance or denial can now be based solely on merit and not ethnicity. The court’s ruling does, however, allow for students in their application essays to describe difficult upbringings which can be used as part of the process for deciding who gets admitted and who doesn’t.
To some, affirmative action was code not only for discrimination, but condescension. It implied that because of slavery and systemic racism, Blacks were incapable of succeeding without the help of government. Is that not a form of racism, especially when so many Blacks have demonstrated success in politics and many other professions? Why aren’t these success stories being told more often and used as examples of what others can do if they put their minds to it?
It is always helpful to define words. To discriminate means “to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit.” That’s the rotten fruit of affirmative action.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who knows something about a difficult upbringing and what it takes to succeed, penned a rejoinder to what he called Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson’s “race-infused worldview.” He said the majority "sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes." Thomas added: “Individuals are the sum of their unique experiences, challenges, and accomplishments. What matters is not the barriers they face, but how they choose to confront them. And their race is not to blame for everything — good or bad — that happens in their lives.”
For those who are concerned that some Black students might not be fully prepared for college-level work, especially at elite schools, there is a solution, consistent with their work and study ethic. It is school choice. Nothing could better prepare a young person of whatever race or background like attending a good school that can provide the education foundation – along with other right choices – that can lead to a successful life.
We know which party opposes school choice and favors affirmative action. That would be the Democratic Party, which remains in the pocket of the Teacher’s Union and their political contributions. It is a disgrace that so many politicians would deny children (they don’t deny theirs) a proper education.
In his essay “The Purpose of Education,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
The elimination of affirmative action and the spreading of school choice can add to character and intelligence, allowing everyone to compete on an equal plane for admission to any college they wish to attend.