At the end of June, I greeted a friend at church. He remarked that it was a great week at the Supreme Court. He was referring to several landmark decisions that were announced just a few days before. I wholeheartedly agreed, it was a great week.
One of those decisions struck down a government program called Affirmative Action (AA). Like other stupid government program names like Affordable Care Act and Inflation Reduction Act, this one was the opposite of its sweet sounding name. The Court exposed AA as a program to disguise the ugly reality of preferentially treating people by race.
Throughout my entire working career, more than 50 years, from the armed forces through corporate employers of various sizes, I encountered AA. In each case, I wondered how the government could officially sanction or require racial discrimination. The Declaration of Independence says “all men are created equal”.
I thought, as an American citizen, the Constitution protected me from racial discrimination. Specifically, the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution provides that all American citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law. Furthermore, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race. Yet, I often witnessed preferences, set-asides, and quotas which were discriminatory.
In their ruling, the Supreme Court was true to the Constitution. They were also true to the sign above the entry door to their building, which says “Equal Justice Under Law”. Six justices, all of them nominated by Republican presidents, voted to prohibit AA. Incredibly, three justices dissented. However, none of the dissenting opinions explained their constitutional reasoning; they only talked about the politics and policy.
I am very pleased that future generations of Americans will not be harmed by the old government discriminatory rules. It’s been a long time coming.
In 2003, a group called Students for Fair Admissions was formed. It aimed to work through the courts to ensure that the Constitution was followed, that college applicants must be judged as individuals, not as members of a racial group. And they went all the way to the Supreme Court.
For example, Harrison Chen was a party to the 2003lawsuit. He, the son of two immigrants, was rejected by Harvard undergrad despite being ranked No. 1 in his high school class and achieving an almost perfect SAT score. Harvard used race-based admissions criteria to exclude him.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in Chen’s case. He stated “eliminating discrimination means eliminating all of it. The judiciary must not pick winners and losers based on the color of their skin.” Amen, sir! Well said, indeed.
Roberts explained that when students obtain preferences on the basis of race alone, the universities are stereotyping. When they admit students “on the basis of race, they engage in the offensive and demeaning assumption that students of a particular race, because of their race, think alike. Such stereotyping can only cause continued hurt and injury.”
He said “it would be a sad day indeed, if America were to become a quota-ridden society, with each identifiable minority assigned proportional representation in every desirable walk of life.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in concurrence with the majority opinion, said “the Court sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes. Those policies fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution and our nation’s equality ideal. In short, they are plainly – and boldly – unconstitutional.”
Thomas, who is black, said “While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and all who suffer discrimination, I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles so clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States: that all men are created equal, are equal citizens, and must be treated equally before the law.”
We are grateful that six Supreme Court justices stuck to the Constitution. They were anchored to it. They did not attempt to legislate from the bench. They did not invent new government programs out of thin air. In his Senate confirmation hearing, Chief Justice Roberts said he would, like a baseball umpire, “call balls and strikes, not pitch or bat the ball.” He is a man of his word.
Scott S. Kramer is a Kendall County Republican.