SAN DIEGO, April 22, 2014 —Michigan’s controversial ban on affirmative action has finally scaled the Mt. Everest of judicial review. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided that the right to utilize or decline racial consideration as a criteria for college admissions is a choice best left to individual states.
This means Michigan voters were within their legal bounds to change the state constitution and that Michigan’s public colleges and universities must accept their state’s new law which forbids racial preferences.
This 6-2 verdict of America’s Supreme Court overturned a lower federal court which deemed Michigan’s law unconstitutional on the basis that it discriminates.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion which seems to imply that the ruling will affect more than college admissions:
“There is no authority in the federal constitution or in the [courts’] precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit to the voters the determination whether racial preferences may be considered in governmental decisions, in particular with respect to school admissions.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the dissenting votes. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate, possibly because of her involvement on the same case back when she was working for the Justice Department.
Writing the dissent, Sotomayer said, “But without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups.”
Perhaps it is no surprise to hear an opposite reaction from conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer who spoke with enthusiasm on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
“What happened today on affirmative action … will allow now a stable settlement as the country, very complex and diverse, works it out state by state, exactly as you want to do it in a democracy,”
Krauthammer also said, “The left is trying to institutionalize affirmative action to make it impossible for any legislature or any referendum ever to abolish it ever in the history of the country…an outrageous proposition that was rejected by the court.”
Neither Sotomayer nor Krauthammer seem to have it quite right.
Although Krauthammer is correct to affirm state rights, there are times when a matter is generally desirable so long as we acknowledge exceptions to the rule. As a general rule states should be allowed to make their own laws, but without limits, our country could return to those hideous days of Jim Crow laws.
Krauthammer may not like affirmative action, but by agreeing with the Supreme Court’s decision to leave such matters with an individual state, he is also accepting the flip side, that states can just as easily embrace affirmative action. This means some universities in our country will continue making decisions of admittance based upon race or gender.
And while Sotomayer is right when she says that “without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups,” she fails to acknowledge that Michigan is doing exactly the opposite. After all, the moment some minority groups become “preferred” other ethnicities will be discriminated against by default.
The left and the right agree on very few things today. But both camps will still point to the Rev. Martin Luther King as a national hero. At times like this, his poetic and sound words should call our nation back to sanity:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Had the Supreme Court wanted to truly end racial discrimination, they would have ruled that race preferences should be abolished period. They violate our 9th amendment which says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
If an American citizen has an inherent right to receive hotel lodging or restaurant service without race being a consideration, that same American has a right to be accepted or rejected from a university based upon merit alone.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious obvious.
Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and columnist. Information about his radio show can be found at bobsiegel.net.
The Associated Press and Fox News contributed to the hard news in this article.