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(52,103 posts)
Thu Jun 29, 2023, 08:51 PM Jun 2023

Ifill: The Supreme Court's Conservatives Are Breaking History and Our Future [View all]


There was little suspense surrounding the outcome of the challenge to race-conscious admissions at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, handed down by the Supreme Court on Thursday. A majority of the justices on this court have indicated in one way or another, over the course of several decades, that they are opposed to race-conscious admissions. And each of these justices have shown near-lockstep adherence to the right-wing project of upending the infrastructure of Civil Rights measures that have been working to confront and frustrate the legacy of this nation’s white supremacist history.

Nevertheless, Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court striking down the use of race-conscious admissions at Harvard and UNC was no less devastating for being expected. The destructive force of the majority opinion is not only that it removes the ability of critical institutions of our democracy to directly recognize the significance of race as they build educational communities where students can learn from and about one another’s experiences and perspectives. The majority opinion’s shattering destruction, its cruelty even, lies in its cynical ahistoricism, the weakness of its analysis, its manipulation of precedent, all in service of the completion of a project undertaken by conservatives—and begun on this court decades ago—to dismantle the legal framework that supports even the most modest efforts to level the playing field for those who have been most marginalized in our country.

The court is on a mission, and the more transparently it betrays the aims of that mission, the more we must confront the danger in which this democracy finds itself. This court is also reckless in its zeal. This means that the methods it uses in furtherance of its mission are crude, shortsighted, thin, and thus easily exposed to charges of illegitimacy. The scope of the court’s hubris is breathtaking. It supplants its judgment over that of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country, as well as 74 major American companies that filed amicus briefs to the court, including Microsoft, Verizon, Starbucks, and American Express.

It is not just that the court runs roughshod over the judgment of these institutions that engage with young people every day and that control the pathways to access and opportunity for so many Americans. Or that the court diminishes the effort of universities to build a diverse learning environment as mere “commendable goals.” It is that this court reduces an assessment of that project to middle school math—demanding instruments of measure for the goals of affirmative action (even after previously discarding such measures), exalting a “two-step” approach, and lamenting the absence of an end date for affirmative action measures. As though fostering the robust exchange of ideas, supporting innovative problem-solving, and developing students equipped to lead in a multiracial democracy is legitimate only when subject to metes and bounds and a forecast due date, lest we, as a democracy, miss more pressing engagements.


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