Quote of the Day: Are Affirmative Action’s Days Numbered?
Our political Quote of the Day comes from the always-perceptive Marc Ambinder, from his new blog The Compass on the great newsweekly The Week. He raises the issue of whether affirmative action’s days are numbered — truly numbered:
Affirmative action’s days are numbered.
2003 was the last time the U.S. Supreme Court took up affirmative action, and a narrow majority in Grutter v. Bollinger held that public institutions could use race as a factor in deciding whether to admit students. Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the Court, looked to a future, 25 years hence, where affirmative action would no longer be needed. The decision changed the compelling state rational for the practice, reasoning that affirmative action to remedy historical injustice was no longer acceptable, while the “tailored” use of affirmative action to achieve a many-hued student body was good in and of itself. In other words, diversity was a thing that the government had a right to use affirmative action to achieve because a diverse student body was an accepted institutional goal.
On Wednesday, Oct. 10, the court will hear a case that has the potential to end all types of racial preferences. It involves the admission system for the University of Texas at Austin.
Basically, most of the class is admitted from the top 10 percent of graduating high school students in each school. The university is allowed to use race to fill the remaining 15 percent of its student body. The plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, will argue that the 85 percent admitted under the “top ten” rule makes for a diverse-enough class and that the affirmative action preferences given to black students for the rest is therefore unwarranted and illegal.
One irony that the court’s liberals are sure to note is that the 85 percent system achieves diversity precisely because Texas schools tend to be either all white, or all minority; the lack of racial diversity within high schools tends to produce a diverse class when the top 10 percent of all schools are allowed to enroll, regardless of the quality of the school.
Go to the link to read it in its entirety.
Within today’s political context the question will become: if the court tosses out affirmative action before the election will the GOP try to turn it to an election year issue by getting Democrats to say where they stand on the issue? It’s still a highly controversial, polarizing subject.