News & Politics

Don't Look Now, but Affirmative Action Could Be in Big Trouble

Guixue Zhou of North Potomac, Md., left, and Samuel Yan, of Loudoun County, Va., protest against racial quotas during a rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, as the court hears oral arguments in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin affirmative action case. At right is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., speaking in solidarity with the Asian American Coalition for Education protest. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

One of these days, the courts will finally get “affirmative action” — aka positive racial discrimination — right. If the Supreme Court’s questions in a new case from Texas is any indication, we might be getting closer to it:

An affirmative action plan at the University of Texas seemed to be in trouble at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. By the end of an unusually long and tense argument, a majority of the justices appeared unpersuaded that the plan was constitutional. A ruling against the university could imperil affirmative action at colleges and universities around the nation.

In a remark that drew muted gasps in the courtroom, Justice Antonin Scalia said that minority students with inferior academic credentials may be better off at “a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.” “I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible,” he added.

But wait — it gets even less politically correct:

Several of the court’s conservative justices subjected the lawyers defending the Texas plan to a barrage of skeptical questions. As usual, Justice Clarence Thomas said nothing, but he is an adamant opponent of affirmative action. Justice Scalia’s questions were particularly hostile to racial preferences, which he said could leave minority students worse off. “Most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas,” he said. “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. questioned the value of diversity in at least some academic settings. “What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?” he asked.

Which really is the entire argument against”diversity” in a nutshell. Does Newton’s Third Law of Motion not apply in Latin America, Africa and Asia?

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. focused on unusual features of the Texas admissions plan, which grants automatic admission to the University of Texas at Austin to students in the state who graduate in roughly the top 10 percent of their high school class. That part of the program, which accounts for 75 percent of the student body, does not directly consider race but increases racial diversity largely because many high schools in the state are not diverse. For the remaining students, the plan takes account of race as one factor among many, the approach used by many selective colleges and universities nationwide. Ms. Fisher sought admission under the second part of the plan.

Meanwhile, racist progressives continue to insist that what minorities really need is to be around white people:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the top-10 program was itself problematic. “It seems to me that it is so obviously driven by one thing only, and that thing is race,” she said. “It’s totally dependent upon having racially segregated neighborhoods, racially segregated schools, and it operates as a disincentive for a minority student to step out of that segregated community and attempt to get an integrated education.”

Justice Elena Kagan was recused from the case because she had worked on it as solicitor general of the United States. The three remaining liberals asked questions in nervous and exasperated tones.

With the best will in the world, America has been trying to square this circle for decades, with little to show for it except full employment for lawyers. Maybe it’s time to try excellence again.