"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Michigan Affirmative Action Decision

The Supreme Court handed down an important decision today on affirmative action.   Previous cases had permitted the University of Michigan and, specifically, its law school, some limited use of race as a criterion for admission within the context of a general desire for diversity.   In the aftermath of those decisions, however, the people of Michigan had amended their state constitution to prohibit the use of race in any way as a criterion for admission.   A group with the aptly Stalinist name of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight For Equality by Any Means Necessary does what such groups are created to do... it sued, arguing that amending a state constitution to require that state agencies such as universities treat all citizens equally regardless of race offends the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Setting the stage for what in my view may be the greatest opening ever uttered in a Supreme Court opinion.   Naturally it comes from Justice Scalia:

It has come to this.   Called upon to explore the jurisprudential twilight zone between two errant lines of precedent, we confront a frighteningly bizarre question:  Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbid what its text plainly requires?   Needless to say (except that this case obliges us to say it), the question answers itself.
The Left increasingly must resort to the Orwellian as its client constituencies seek government favor.   Thus, in a liberal state in the North that never had either slavery or Jim Crow, to adopt as a principle of the state's constitution that race ought not to be used to distinguish between citizens must be called "racism."   It would be funny (as Scalia's formulation is funny), if it were not (as Scalia also notes) so frightening.  

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