The Supreme Court ruled today that a law that bans the use of affirmative action policies in admissions at a public university is constitutional. “This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in one of the three opinions upholding the law. “It is about who may resolve it.”
The case stems from a Michigan ballot measure which banned the use of racial preferences for admissions to state schools. The measure was challenged in court, but the Supreme Court says it’s kosher.
Left unanswered is the question of whether or not racial preferences in general are lawful.
Here’s the full decision.
It seems to me that if we are to live in a color blind society, one in which we judge people by the “content of their character and not the color of their skin” as Martin Luther King charged, then we cannot make decisions about things like hiring and admissions based on skin color.
Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote in dissent that the ruling hurts “historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights.” Yet, if we go far enough back in history, which group of people hasn’t been historically marginalized?
We’re all well aware of the enslavement of blacks in America’s history, but Asian Americans were used as slave labor (or near to it) in our past. The Irish got much the same treatment.
German Americans were interred during Word Wars I and II, as were Asian Americans and Italians.
Humanity has a long and unfortunate history of trying to marginalize one another. But does it really help us to focus on just a few instances of that injustice, and treat the descendants of those victims (or just the people who share their racial background) as victims for all the rest of time?
We can aspire to something better. Like a society where skin color truly doesn’t matter one way or another.