Thursday, June 28, 2007

Supreme Court Limits Affirmative Action in Schools

Today the Supreme Court "rejected diversity plans in two major school districts that take race into account in assigning students but left the door open for using race in limited circumstances." (AP) The case involved two school districts which utilized programs to assign students from black and white neighbors to schools which were often far from their homes in order to artificially attain some sort of nebulous "diversity" within individual facilities.

In the majority opinion, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the following:
"Simply because the school districts may seek a worthy goal doesn't mean that they are free to discriminate on the basis of race to achieve it."
An eloquent point, and a highly intelligent one, made in this debate over means and ends. For quite awhile, those blinded by their focus on the ends have ignored the gross hypocrisy in their support of means so similar to the very evil they were fighting against: discrimination. Can one, in good conscience, use discrimination to reverse discrimination? Especially discrimination against individuals whose only "fault" is to share an ethnicity with people who may have discriminated against people who share your own ethnicity? This game of racial guilt, blame and perceived privilege is in itself simply another form of bigotry, another form of prejudice, another form of ugly racism, as individuals would be rewarded or punished based on skin-color rather than personal belief, action, guilt or achievement. All affirmative action has done is to institutionalize discrimination and promote tribalism over individuality. Affirmative action has been a ill-conceived assault on personal liberty and responsibility.

In a moment evoking Yogi Berra, Roberts also put forth these words of wisdom:
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
While somewhat obvious, this is a point often lost or intentionally ignored in the discussion. You cannot battle the practice of racial discrimination and privilege with a different form of racial discrimination and special privilege. If it is wrong to judge and discriminate against blacks based on their race, then it is equally wrong to do the same to whites. The anti-affirmative action argument is not suggesting the wrongness of discrimination against blacks, as many times as proponents would like to race-bait and toss the word 'racist' around; it argues that discrimination of any sort, for whatever "lofty goal," is wrong. The affirmative actionists have merely attempted to argue that one form of discrimination is worse than another, depending on who are the victims, again attempting to create some sort of race-based (ie, bigoted) hierarchy of worthiness of victimhood.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the only black person on the Supreme Court, wrote this in a separate opinion endorsing the majority ruling:

“What was wrong in 1954 cannot be right today. The plans before us base school assignment decisions on students’ race. Because ‘our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,’ such race-based decisionmaking is unconstitutional.”

I would go even further to say that plans which incorporate any consideration of ethnicity, any attempt to artificially "promote diversity", or alter ethnic proportions within a group, are equally discriminatory, whether or not they do so directly. Thomas also wrote:
"Every time the government uses racial criteria to 'bring the races together,' someone gets excluded, and the person excluded suffers an injury solely because of his or her race."

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