the Supreme Court handed down two “separate but equal” decisions regarding
the University of Michigan’s undergraduate and law school admissions policies.
The Gratz decision struck down the objective criteria of awarding points to preferred minorities in undergraduate admissions. The Grutter
decision upheld the law school’s admission policy. In the majority
opinion, the court said the Constitution “does not prohibit the law school’s
narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling
interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student
Both decisions allow for a subjective policy to give preferential treatment,
or what is euphemistically called “affirmative action,” to certain minority
applicants. At the University of Michigan, preferred minorities are
African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. An immigrant from
Bosnia, Afghanistan or Vietnam can expect no favor.
The 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, overturned the earlier Plessy v Ferguson
(1896) decision to allow “separate but equal” public schools for white and
black students. The Warren Court declared in 1954 that segregation
based on race denied black children equal protection under laws guaranteed
by the 14th amendment. Almost fifty years later, we seem to be taking
a backward step. Today, race can and will be used as an independent
factor in determining the student body.
The 2003 Supreme Court has determined that separate admission policies for
preferred and non-preferred applicants can stand. The court, in essence,
has found that the 14th Amendment, equal protection under the law, can be
suspended due to a “compelling interest” in diversity. College administrators
will have hegemony over multifarious goals as they trade point systems for
more insidious admissions policy.
The Grutter decision is only a Red Herring. The failure of the
public schools to adequately prepare students for college is a wake-up call
and the real reason behind underprivileged kids struggling in academics.
Educators, parents, and an apathetic public share the blame. The Press Democrat
(Santa Rosa, Ca) ran an editorial: “The nation has not reached that
moment in its history when equal opportunity to education exists for all
people, regardless of race.” Wrong! Equal opportunity exists
but the low standards being set and lack of academic accountability have
robbed many students of advanced opportunity.
Justice Clarence Thomas, raised in a poor family in Georgia, is a role model
who happens to be an audacious foe of affirmative action. In his dissent
in the Grutter decision Thomas states, “No one would argue that a
university could set up a lower general admission standard and then impose
heightened requirements only on black applicants. Similarly, a university
may not maintain a high admission standard and grant exemptions to favored
races.” Thomas, after quoting the abolitionist, Frederick Douglass,
goes on to say, “Like Douglass, I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue
of American life without the meddling of university administrators.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. declared on August 28, 1963: “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.”
Giving preference based on race discriminates: pure and simple.
A multi-ethnic university is a good thing. Diverse ideas and backgrounds,
on the same intellectual level, only add to the strength of the overall learning
environment. However, unqualified students face the greatest risk of
failure. Many students who fall in the category of preferred minority
status earn admission without special treatment. Do they deserve the
stigma this policy promotes as people question their enrollment?
Proponents of affirmative action play the race card as they run roughshod
over the Constitution. They promote a perpetual state of victimhood
for preferred minorities. It’s a shame the majority on the Supreme
Court fell for this mendacious argument. It’s a bigger shame that public
middle and high schools won’t be forced to actually prepare all students
for the real world.
Michael Nevin is a California law enforcement officer.
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