After an already tumultuous year in the legal realm, the Supreme Court is set to hear another case that will raise more than a few eyebrows. On Monday, the justices will evaluate arguments over universities employing race-conscious enrollment practices when they assess which students will be accepted. Prior challenges to affirmative action in the academic field have failed, but with the new makeup of the highest court in the land, the outcome might be different this time.
It’s up to the Supreme Court
The court will hear two lawsuits filed by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an anti-affirmative action organization, on October 31. One of the suits was brought against the University of North Carolina and the other against Harvard. The plaintiff is requesting that the court prohibit consideration of race in college admissions. It contends that both universities have discriminated against Asian American and white applicants, and that this is a violation of the Constitution and other federal laws. The initial plan was to hear both cases simultaneously but the court later decided to separate them so that Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who recused herself from the Harvard matter, could rule on the UNC case.
SFFA was founded by Edward Blum, a 70-year-old former stockbroker and Republican congressional candidate. He has tried unsuccessfully for years to mount an effective challenge to affirmative action. “I’m a one-trick pony,” he said in an interview. “I hope and care about ending these racial classifications and preferences in our public policy.”
“An individual’s race or ethnicity should not be used to help them or harm them in their life’s endeavors,” Blum said. Predictably, those on the left are not smiling at the latest effort to do away with affirmative action. “He’s teeing up precisely the concerns that the right has articulated about efforts to achieve racial equality in this country — taking race into account,” said David D. Cole, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, during an interview with a popular Washington newspaper. Cole further argued that a ruling affirming that the Constitution outlaws “any consideration of race – period,” would be “earth-shattering in terms of our society today.”
Does Affirmative Action Benefit Minorities?
Affirmative action has not exactly been a hot-button issue over recent years. But if the Supreme Court were to strike it down, it would certainly become a source of controversy, with folks on the left using the decision to promote their “Everyone Is Racist” narrative. None of these folks will likely stop to consider, however, whether the policy provides a net benefit to black America in 2022.
For starters, affirmative action does not appear to benefit black students as much as its proponents would have us believe. Doing away with these policies would hardly have the “earth-shattering” impact Cole claimed. While these practices may have been necessary when they were first implemented in the 1960s, they are doing more harm than good in 2022.
The most problematic element of affirmative action is that it sets many black students up to fail by prioritizing their skin color over their level of proficiency. When ivy-league institutions like Harvard accept black students who might have decent grades but aren’t up to the standards applied in elite classrooms, those students have a much higher chance of dropping out or failing to compete with their peers. On the other hand, if those same students are accepted in more mainstream learning institutions, they are more likely to flourish and to have a successful career after graduating.
In a piece for The Atlantic, authors Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. explained:
“We refer to this problem as ‘mismatch,’ a word that largely explains why, even though blacks are more likely to enter college than are whites with similar backgrounds, they will usually get much lower grades, rank toward the bottom of the class, and far more often drop out. Because of mismatch, racial-preference policies often stigmatize minorities, reinforce pernicious stereotypes, and undermine the self-confidence of beneficiaries, rather than creating the diverse racial utopias so often advertised in college-campus brochures.”
This “mismatch” situation not only results in wasted time and money, it can also be quite demoralizing for a black student who ends up believing they do not have what it takes to succeed when, in reality, they only need to attend an institution that is better suited for their needs.
As a black conservative/libertarian, I realize that affirmative action in 2022 is similar to the progressive approach in other areas. The policies that leftists embrace involve lowering or even eliminating standards, ostensibly to make it easier for African Americans to enjoy the same benefits as whites. But if they truly wished to assist minorities, these activists would focus on policies and measures designed to lift black citizens up to higher standards, as that would actually have a long-term positive impact. Unfortunately, this appears to be the polar opposite of what the hard left wants for the black community.
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