24 June 2013

Clarence Thomas, affirmative action, and Brown v. Board of Education

The University’s arguments today are no more persuasive than they were 60 years ago. Nevertheless, despite rejecting identical arguments in Brown, the Court in Grutter deferred to the University’s determination that the diversity obtained by racial discrimination would yield educational benefits. There is no principled distinction between the University’s assertion that diversity yields educational benefits and the segregationists’ assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits.  Educational benefits are a far cry from the truly compelling state interests that we previously required to justify use of racial classifications.
My view of the Constitution is the one advanced by the plaintiffs in Brown: “[N]o State has any authority under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.”
Although cloaked in good intentions, the University’s racial tinkering harms the very people it claims to be helping.
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