Yesterday the Civil Rights Movement ended:
In a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions over what role the judiciary should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities.
The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states. It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity.
States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities.
Oh, the humanity! Segregation is legal again. So is slavery! Black people are being put in chains!
But wait! There’s more!
Okay, here’s what happened. Years ago, somebody decided that the best way to make up for past discrimination against blacks and other minorities was to give them an advantage in hiring and college admissions. Laws were passed to require racial preferences be used to help minorities. In some places they even had quotas intended to ensure proper racial representation. This was called “Affirmative Action.”
The people who were negatively affected by Affirmative Action were not the privileged elites who benefited under the old system, it was the poor and middle-class whites who were scratching and clawing to climb the social class ladder too. Some of them felt they were being discriminated against because of their race and they went to court and they won.
The court didn’t end Affirmative Action, they just restricted its use. But some people still felt it was reverse discrimination and they were right. You cannot deny that Affirmative Action is discrimination based on race. You can argue that it is good and necessary, but it is still discrimination.
Years went by and Affirmative Action became increasingly unpopular. So some states decided to end it. Michigan is one of those states. The voters in Michigan amended their state constitution to ban Affirmative Action.
That’s all they did.
Blacks and other minorities still cannot be discriminated against because of their race. But they no longer get any special preference. The law in Michigan is colorblind.
I think my favorite part of yesterday’s decision was where Scalia scolded Sotomayor for suggesting that the voters of Michigan were racists:
“As Justice Harlan observed over a century ago, ‘[o]ur Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,’” Scalia concluded, quoting the dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson. “The people of Michigan wish the same for their governing charter. It would be shameful for us to stand in their way.”
And then, the Parthian shot: “And doubly shameful to equate ‘the majority’ behind [the constitutional amendment] with ‘the majority’ responsible for Jim Crow,” he added in a final footnote, citing the first two pages of Sotomayor’s dissent.