Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Affirmative action is dead

Even a liberal women's block vote in the Supreme court could not block the inevitable.

Michigan is now free from the restraints of affirmative action in the Education arena. The 6-2 victory can be directly attributed to the Southern White backlash that helped elect Republican presidents with an objective to turn the Supreme Court red (among the new inductees were conservative icons such as Clarence Thomas who rose to prominence due to ...affirmative action). The surprising YES vote was that of liberal Stephen Breyer. 

Now many more ballot initiatives are anticipated at the state level to roll back quotas in other areas as well.

But the majority decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, went well beyond that. Without saying so explicitly, it appeared to give its approval to ballot initiatives designed to roll back affirmative action in other areas as well, such as hiring employees, awarding contracts—and ending racial segregation.
This is in effect good news for Asians (incl. Browns), until a time when Asians become too successful and the whites decide to vote for quotas (proportional to the population mix) as has been suggested in India.
The 6-2 ruling upheld the constitutionality of a measure passed by referendum in Michigan that disallowed so-called affirmative action in college admissions. Effectively favoring voter initiatives over the courts, the decision was expected to have repercussions far beyond Michigan — governors of Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and West Virginia had supported Michigan's appeal. 

On Tuesday, liberal justice Stephen Breyer voted with the conservative majority, and the fourth member of the court's liberal wing, Justice Elena Kagan, had recused herself. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that the case was "not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it."

"There is no authority in the constitution of the United States or in this court's precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters," he said.

In 2006, Michigan voters approved a measure prohibiting the state's public universities and schools from "discriminating against or granting preferential treatment for any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin." 

Known as Proposition 2, the measure was struck down by an appeals court, and the case reached the Supreme Court.  The Michigan case comes on the heels of a high court decision last year concerning affirmative action at the University of Texas. In that case, justices elected not to rule on the constitutionality of using race and ethnicity in admissions, instructing a lower court to take another look at the sensitive matter. 

In 2003, the court ruled that universities could consider factors such as race and sex in admissions but ruled out as unconstitutional a strict point system such as that used by the University of Michigan Law School.

Justice Kennedy acknowledged that debate on issues such as racial preferences "all too often may shade into rancor." "But that does not justify removing certain court-determined issues from the voters' reach," he said. "Democracy does not presume that some subjects are either too divisive or too profound for public debate.”
Link(1): http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/04/post_16.html
Link(2): http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2014/04/another-bad-day-for-affirmative-action.html

1 comment:

  1. Well, I hope it's dead, but probably not in places like California or NY. The talent discrepancy fostered by affirmative action is absurd and not even obviously helpful for the "beneficiaries" who twnd to get horrible grades.