The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case in which the Court appears poised to overturn prior precedent allowing the limited use of race in college and graduate-school admissions decisions.
The Court last ruled on the issue in a pair of 2003 decisions which examined the admissions practices at the University of Michigan. In those opinions, the Court held that colleges may make limited use of racial preferences in order to promote what the Court called the “educational benefits of a diverse student body.”
Liberal-leaning Justice Elena Kagan will not take part in the decision due to her previous involvement in the case as Solicitor General, which only leaves the “liberal wing” of the court with three likely votes. The usual swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, sided with the conservative majority in the 2003 decisions.
The Weekly Standard recently summarized a series of amicus briefs submitted to the Court that demolish both the legal and practical case for affirmative action at universities:
- The Asian American Legal Foundation argued that college affirmative action programs often discriminate against Asian Americans by treating them as “an over-represented and hence disfavored race.” On this point, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law explained that limits placed on Asian-American school enrollment “are indistinguishable from those utilized to impose quotas against Jews throughout much of the past century.”
- Twenty two economists and statisticians argued that there is no empirical evidence that students are benefited by a “critical mass” of minorities in the class room.
- Several briefs demonstrated that research on race-conscious admissions actually show results opposite of the policies’ purported benefits. As many college students could probably already observe, race-based admissions tend to undermine race relations on campuses by “heightening stereotypes and creating greater separation and self-segregation between racial groups.”
- Similarly, two statisticians presented an equally powerful argument: college affirmative action may actually hurt minority students! Statistics show that minority students who are enrolled in law schools that they wouldn’t normally qualify for are likely to suffer academically, thereby hurting their future professional careers. Essentially, the brief argues that it is more beneficial for students to excel at lower-tiered schools than to underperform at top-ranked schools at which they might not normally be granted admission.
Overall, the briefs paint the picture of political correctness on race run amok. Many colleges blindly view racial “diversity” as an end in and of itself, rather than a means to an end (i.e. to obtain some educational benefits). If there are no true educational benefits to college affirmative action programs, then there can be no constitutional justification to make racial distinctions.
Chief Justice John Roberts probably said it best: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”