This is from a Politico story covering the topic and there are too many good quotes to pass up.
The outcome of the case was not a shock, but the lopsided, 6-2 vote signaled the court’s continuing rightward shift on issues of race.
Over the past week, I’ve tried to expose myself to more areas of the leftist blogosphere, and it is fascinating how often blogs like to accuse the right of racism, rather than talk about actual policy ideas. There are, of course, racist elements on the right (probably more so than on the left, especially if we take the left’s definition of racism instead of “treating people differently based on race”), but I find those elements of the right rather boring. This is because (1) they are emotionally based positions, like many on the left, and cannot be subjected to logical argument, and therefore (2) they have nothing to do with libertarian thought or policy. But in this Politico article it is too funny. If the Supreme Court has a “rightward shift”, does that mean the right-wing position is to be 100% post-racial and color blind? Because then it sounds like all those Leftist criticisms finally worked, and racism has been eradicated from the right-wing! And furthermore, if the choice is between a “rightward shift” where we don’t see race anymore and people are treated as individuals, and a “leftward shift” where racism still exists, and people of different ethnic groups are treated differently not based on who they are, but where they were born, it seems clear where the moral high ground lies.
Next we have a quote about how silly it is to subject public policy to input from those it would affect:
Quite the contrary, said said affirmative action proponent Michael Olivas, director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at University of Houston. It’s a huge concern that states are making decisions about higher education via ballot measures, which can overturn nuanced, longstanding public policy in an instant.
The nerve of some people! To think to question the educational bureaucracy, and insist on input from those who fund and attend the schools. But to be serious, suppose this was actually a problem, and subjecting education to political whims was a huge issue…it’s almost like the state shouldn’t be significantly involved in education anyway!
Justice Sotomayor stated that:
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”
I assume this is a useless soundbite because there’s no reason that we can’t pay attention to subconscious effects of racism and still allow a democratically approved measure to ban race as a factor in college admissions. I assume Justice Sotomayor had more to say on how her view related to this case, but I am less sure others on the Left do. And to them I would say we should accept this as another move towards a blurring of racial divides and try to see people as the unique individuals they are, rather than defined by the groups they are a part of.
In a somewhat surprising move, Justice Stephen Breyer voted to uphold the Michigan measure, becoming the only Democratic appointee on the court to do so. He wrote his own opinion explaining why the issue should not be taken out of the hands of Michigan voters.
This was not a 5-4 decision, and Stephen Breyer is a relatively reasonable left-leaning Justice (Ginsburg is not). This case is pretty cut and dry: publicly funded universities can be banned from using race as a factor in admission (I’d call it a ban from being racist in admissions) if those who fund it believe that it is wrong.
For more on affirmative action and discrimination, I recommend this piece from Priceonomics.