The Court's 'Swing Vote' Finally Swings Again

Just when you were about to give up on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy as the Supreme Court's swing savior -- just when you figured he had permanently joined the court's powerful and intense conservative caucus -- he goes and (barely) saves affirmative action in public schools (at least for now). His concurring opinion in Thursday's big school cases essentially becomes the law of the land and allows school officials around the country yet another chance to continue to try to use race as one of many "components" to be considered when trying to come up with a student body that is "diverse."

Thanks to strident language offered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., writing for the court's conservative wing, it is now much harder than it was before for school officials to justify admissions policies that use race as a factor. And Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.'s vote in this case makes it clear he truly is the "anti-O'Connor" -- the former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor having voted four years ago to save affirmative action in graduate school. But because of Kennedy, there are still five members of the court, a majority, who are unwilling at this time to completely foreclose that possibility.

Here is what Justice Kennedy wrote as he split the baby:

A compelling interest exists in avoiding racial isolation, an interest that a school district, it its discretion and expertise, may choose to pursue. Likewise, a district may consider it a compelling interest to achieve a diverse student population. Race may be one component of that diversity, but other demographic factors, plus special talents and needs should also be considered.... Those entrusted with directing our public schools can bring to bear the creativity of experts, parents, administrators, and other concerned citizens to find a way to achieve the compelling interests they face without resorting to widespread governmental allocation of benefits and burdens on the basis of racial classifications."

You tell me what that really means. How are school officials supposed to comply with Kennedy's mandate in a meaningful way? Do they need to consider less controversial factors in determining how to achieve diversity -- do they need to send more Red Sox fans to public schools teeming with Yankees fans? Does every public school student have to complete some intense questionnaire that local officials would then examine to try to gain diversity without running afoul of Kennedy's test?

Instead of clarity from this decision, what we get is more nuance. Instead of finality, we get a debate over the meaning of the word "component" from Kennedy's spiel. And that means a whole new layer of litigation to determine the full and accurate meaning of Kennedy's new test for public schools.

See you again in another few years, when this latest iteration of the affirmative action battle likely will have wended its way back to the Supreme Court.

By Andrew Cohen |  June 28, 2007; 11:53 AM ET
Previous: Time for Congress to Put Up or Shut Up | Next: Kennedy (and the Court) Without Tears


Please email us to report offensive comments.

The way to stop discrimination is not to discriminate. Bravo, Chief Justice, Bravo.

Posted by: T. King | June 28, 2007 01:18 PM

Kennedy equivocated. Didn't have the cajones to say what he really thinks (and if so what is he doing in the Supreme Court?).

"to achieve a diverse student population.
Race may be one component of that diversity, but other DEMOGRAPHIC (emphasis added) factors..." Ha ha ha. Much as I deplore Roberts and Alito generally, loathe as I am to side with them, I support them on this (probably just because it is their party position) . I usually am pretty concurrent with Andrew, but I don't with the automatic affirmatic action position.

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 01:23 PM

I don't think o'Connor always deserved the moderate label; I don't like a lot of her opinions . "Well he (Judge Roberts during the confirmation) isn't a woman." Don't like Roberts, but, no.

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 01:29 PM

Treading water is better than drowning... but much more tiring.

Or is Kennedy somehow, in some strange, secretive way, siding with the "liberal" wing, by voting with the others, but writing differently... in this case he seems to disagree strongly with "conservatives" he votes with. I say secretive, because I can't see any way this is consistent with law, logic or reason... (maybe as an emotion?)

We have the triumph here of good Catholic (not catholic) upbringing... or so I believe of the four hardcore conservatives, and a bit of protestant feeling which somehow crept into Kennedy.

Posted by: Pogo still | June 28, 2007 01:47 PM

Outstanding decision by the Court! Hopefully, it won't be long before unconstitutional affirmative action programs (a redundancy) are eliminated and credible American jurisprudence is revived.

Posted by: John | June 28, 2007 02:02 PM

Let's not blame Protestants for affirmative action; if there were any ethnic group who first pushed for it, the rationale is obvious

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 02:04 PM

Unfortunately, the IQ tests of groups like Asians, whites, hispanics with South or Central American native blood, and blacks show dramatic aptitude differences on the average. This difference cannot be remedied with preference programs. Lowering standards will not make low IQs into high IQs.

Equal Opportunity has never meant that we should choose the unfit of any of those race groups for admission to schools or universities or for employment. It only meant that those with the right aptitudes and abilities and who could do the work and succeed should not be discriminated against because of race or any other reason, and those groups who suffered historical discrimination should be assisted to achieve at the level of their skills.

But, many schools and universities chose to interpret this to mean that there should be equality of results, not just equality of opportunity. And, the black/womens/hispanic departments in universities pushed the abuse of preferences for their own "tribe" at the expense of more qualified candidates.

And, this is the "third rail" of academia. I note President Summers of Harvard was forced out of his office for just suggesting that there might be innate factors affecting academic performance based on the differences between men and women. This is madness; the feminists have gone insane, but so have the faculties of race/gender preferences. This is an abuse of the merit system, and it lowers the level of ability and achievement for all of us.

The only criteria for acceptance to any position, whether academic, or in employment should be ability. And, I interpret the Justice's remarks to mean that given equality of ability, then achieving a balance for other reasons is acceptable, given other factors. Unfortunately, it is hard to define this with any clarity.

But, it seems that academia will fight tooth and nail to promote the unfit over the fit for insane reasons which common sense tells us is nonsense. But, such is political correctness.

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice Roberts.

Posted by: Arthur E. Lemay | June 28, 2007 02:04 PM

What I think is most disturbing about these "visionaries" is their lack of an institutional memory. In the great span of time, we are not far removed from Selma, from lynchings, from separate but unequal. Conservatives think that we are all on an equal footing. They fought that footing every step of the way, remember that Rehnquist was a clerk to Jackson and started out as an Arizona poll watcher challenging minority voters. This is a despicable court. They bridle against activism yet in reality are its greatest proponents. I always thought that Roberts was the smiling trojan horse (we knew what Alito was) and he is proving me out.

Posted by: Robert Sommers | June 28, 2007 02:16 PM

This is outrageous! It's time we adopted quotas in everything. There are far too many whites, Asians and especially Jews in the professional fields, and not enough of people of color.
And way too many Catholics on the Supreme Court.
Roberts, Scalia and Alito should be drawn and quartered.

Posted by: Goody Marshall | June 28, 2007 02:25 PM

The country is getting what it requested when it elected W. And Justice O'Connor was kidding herself when she assumed that her replacement (recall that she always insisted she wanted to be replaced by a Republican administration)would protect any of the important swing issues she fought for. Maybe the country will reinterpret euphamisms about electing "justices who will strictly intepret the constitution" as that which they really are: "justices who will support their party's social and political goals".

Posted by: mhaynes | June 28, 2007 02:28 PM

If you ask Robert, I'd bet he'd say that racism is a thing of the past and not to be worried about anyways...the problem with leading such a sheltered life with a siver spoon in your mouth. Ginsberg had it right in her confirmation hearing when discussing the Johson case (you remember, the hearing where she wouldn't answer questions about anything controversial?)-

"I will tell you a nonlegal reaction I had to it. The case involved a department that had 238 positions, and not one before Diane Joyce was ever held by a woman. After an initial screening, 12 people qualified for the job. That number was further reduced until there were 7 considered well qualified for the job. Then the final selection was made.

"On the point score, Paul Johnson came out slightly higher than Diane Joyce, but a big part of the composite score was determined by a subjective test, an interview, if I recall correctly, and they were scored on the basis of the interview. I thought back to the days when I was in law school. I did fine on the pen and paper tests. I had good grades. And then I had interviews. I didn't score as high as the men on the interviews. I was screened out on the basis of the interview.

"So I wonder whether the kind of program that was involved in the Johnson (1987) case was no preference at all, but a safeguard, a check against unconscious bias, bias that may even have been conscious way back in the fifties. In a department that has 238 positions and none of them are filled by women, perhaps the slight plus - one must always recognize that there is another interest at stake in the cases, Paul Johnson's - checks against the prospect that the employer was in fact engaged unconsciously in denying full and equal opportunity to women.

"These are very difficult cases and each one has to be studied in its own particular context. But in that case, at least, I related back to my own experience. Whenever a subjective test is involved, there is that concern. If you are a member of the group that has up until now been left out, you wonder whether the person conducting the interview finds you unfamiliar, finds himself slightly uncomfortable, thinking about you being part of a workplace that up until then has been, say, all-white or all-male."

Posted by: Michael | June 28, 2007 02:29 PM

Arthur I first read what you wrote thinking you were joking in bad taste, but you don't seem to be. I deplore the uses of affirmative action (hell even some of the uses of Brown vs. Board, although of course see the original reason for it), but don't bring in this racist garbage claiming INNATE racial differences (the "unfit" of racial groups) , and using IQ tests devised by psychologists (such colossal intellects they are, by making and administering their self-defined means of evaluation) to support it. Mucvh of what you write comes out of the racist Darwinist (you confirm this affiliation by calling the unfit and the fit, and "aptitude" repeatedly) social "science" garbage of the 1920's (yes we had it here and in England to a less extent first before the Nazis in their different forms)

Yes, I do agree with equality of opportunity, not result.
But even without the bigotry,your talk of innate ability is uninformed by recent history, and motivates many interest groups to want to disprove such attitudes, hence the cheating. And talking about innate ability, what about paying people to coach you, or those dumb rich people who pay people to train them.

Definitely don't want you on my side!

Posted by: John Tyson | June 28, 2007 02:29 PM

I have to agree with Cohen on this one.
How in the world can someone comply with this decision aside from getting rid of all racial considerations or setting up a huge bureaucracy to evaluate applications?

Posted by: Ctown_woody | June 28, 2007 02:32 PM

Well, Ginsberg could wonder all she wanted about the reason for not getting in, but unless she knows for sure the reason, that's all she has. If she can prove the reason, then there is a legitimate basis for complaint; if not, various temptations come in to make the jump, as one becomes entitled to get what they want.

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 02:50 PM

Arthur's a fool, nevermind him. Anyone who argues an affirmative action is about promoting the unfit over the fit, rather than as another discriminator among the definately qualified (which it is), clearly doesn't care for the facts of the case, just overblown ill-informed rhetoric.

Posted by: Michael | June 28, 2007 02:53 PM

Well talking about how to comply is beside the point: Kennedy was saying the obvious that diversity can be achieved in many ways (and maybe isn't a worthy aim in and of itself; isn't much of variety a personal matter? Do we want schools where everyone is at each other's throats, proclaiming their presumedly autonomous identity?), but for whatever reason-being pc, not wanting to be pilloried-he included race, which shows the synthetic nature of what he wrote.

Posted by: Sy | June 28, 2007 02:57 PM

It is fascinating to watch each side of the Court's debate passionately invoke, and claim to be the legitimate heirs to, Brown v. Board of Education.

The debate over whether Brown (and more broadly, the Constitution) requires color-blindness or permit race-conscious remedies is decades old and finds well-intentioned people on both sides (or deeply ambivalent. It is perhaps the oldest and most difficult Constitutional issue we face, and it will not end with this case.

But I am frequently struck at how the conservatives and Republicans who were the least supportive of civil rights back in the 1950's and 1960's -- and who developed a whole Southern Strategy to capitalize on the white backlash -- have suddenly developed such a keenly calibrated sensitivity to any hint of governmental race consciousness. One cannot help but conclude that, having lost the main battles over civil rights, they are now determined to neutralize the remedies.

I realize this observation does nothing to resolve the underlying issues, but I think it does tell us something about the motivations and life experiences of many --though certainly not all -- of those who would align themselves with the plurality's decision.

Posted by: Meridian | June 28, 2007 03:00 PM

"If she can prove the reason, then there is a legitimate basis for complaint; if not, various temptations come in to make the jump, as one becomes entitled to get what they want."

Which is exactly why such programs can be legal on a case-by-case basis, as she said in the hearing, and as Justic Kennedy acknowledged today in the ruling. Sorry, some issues just don't have clear black and white answers and clear definitions. It's like pornography, you know it when you see it.

Posted by: Michael | June 28, 2007 03:05 PM

All this because not enough Senate Democrats had the guts to filibuster Alito's nomination. Of all the horrendous damage that Bush et al. have done to this country, putting Roberts and Alito on the Court ranks right up there. And Bush couldn't have done it without "Holy Joe" Lieberman and his fellow invertebrates.

Posted by: lydgate | June 28, 2007 03:25 PM

Huh? The programs are to remedy presumed already existing known prejudice.If prejudice clearly occurred, not out of a assumption that one is supposed to get whatever they apply for (that is what I meant by one making the jump they would like to assume that "they are entitled to get what they want"-OF COURSE many assume if they are allowed and can get away with alleging unconscious discrimination, that they are entitled!).

Shouldn't be get the programs in wholesale, and then decide case by case which is "legal", but since their purpose is to remedy preassumed prejudice assumed to be addressable in no other way, the question is whether there was prejudice. To address that (the assumption that one can't redress by any other means other than affirmative action I really don't buy)one doesn't need affirmative action, but can determine as it comes up, indeed the case-by-case basis. Besides there are ever more increasing ways to cheat and steal now not to even need affirmative action; it would be a ridiculously unfair advantage on top of other available tricks and strategies (which outsiders don't have).

No you can't just tell when you see it; appearances (esp in a nervous,greedy, or delusional person's mind) may be misleading. BTW there is very little that I, personally, would consider to be pornography in a bad sense (other than of course if it involved unconsensual brutality to someone), so that also isn't something that one knows just by seeing!

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 03:28 PM

If something is subjective, one can't then assume to know the unconscious intention, much less to assume that if one didn't get something they applied for, that there must have been a clear unconscious intention (unconscious to the doer but somehow clearly known to oneself!) to deprive one of what they so righteously deserved.

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 03:35 PM

A compelling interest in avoiding racial isolation? Isn't that the tail pulling the horse?

Posted by: Eric | June 28, 2007 03:38 PM

I'm going to pick at a nit for a moment. The phrase "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it," comes from Justice Harlan not in reference to pornography, but rather obscenity. Pornography isn't generally considered censorable, but the obscene can be censored.

My impression of this case is that Brown is no longer good law. Just because the 4-member conservative wing pays homage to Brown doesn't mean that they haven't overruled it. And Kennedy is just as bad. Obviously he realized that if he joined Roberts's opinion there would be a holding carrying the full force of the Constitution, so he gave himself an out.

Until we get some moderates and liberals on the Court, expect more of these kinds of rulings.

Posted by: Nellie | June 28, 2007 03:55 PM

And the point of AA is to put a clear barrier in place that in a statutory manner overrules any institutional discrimination, becasue if AA was the discriminating factor that yielded an unfair advantage, it is far easier to prove that in court and overturn the findings, rather than leave in place a racist and sexist policy simply because the discrimination cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

And the simple fat is yes, prejudice does exist, and is still all around us. It's not as bad as before, but where it exists it is deep and it disguises itself much better than before. All the more reason for these programs. Turning a blind eye to it acting like there's not a problem does nothing to promote equality in our society.

Posted by: Michael | June 28, 2007 03:59 PM

The court asks if the government can be cognizant of skin color, or race, when making decisions. No, cry conservatives, the government should be color-blind!

Color-blind my ass. Nobody is color-blind. That's why it's so hilarious when Stephen Colbert insists that he is. "People say I'm white, so I believe them, but I don't know because I don't see color."

Can each of those justices swear they'd be blind to the color of the man their daughter brought home? Would they be blind to the color of their compatriots at the country club? Or do they believe they can be color-blind because the only color they ever see is white?

Posted by: Solvei | June 28, 2007 05:17 PM

This decision is absurd. Only SIX years ago, some of these schools were under Court Ordered desegregation plans. They have continued some of those aspects.

Posted by: jss | June 28, 2007 05:18 PM

The Roberts opinion does not seem to understand BROWN. He writes "The districts argue that other factors, such as student preferences, affect assignment decisions under their plans, but under each plan _when race comes intoplay_, it is decisive by itself."

In BROWN, race was the first and only, factor affecting a student' school. The current plans use race as a tiebreaker after other factors are taken into account.

Posted by: jss | June 28, 2007 05:38 PM

Kennedy votes with Roberts on the outcome, but on such narrow grounds that he rejects most of the basis in the Roberts opinion. It makes it totally unclear how the districts are supposed to respond to the decision.

Posted by: jss | June 28, 2007 05:46 PM

Hopefully more people are functionally color-blind than Solvei assumes. Seems (not to say is similar situation, but the reasoning is) like the cynical uncalled for assumption decadents use silently assuming that everyone has their prejudice and lack of control, so therefore they are free to do what they secretly want; they may not say it is right, but "everyone is like me"

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 05:59 PM

What Nellie wrote at 3:55 makes sense to me on all points, picking nits or not.

Posted by: Charles | June 28, 2007 06:03 PM

Nellie: Since we're going to pick nits, "I know it when I see it" was written by Justice Stewart, not Justice Harlan.

Posted by: South Loudounian | June 28, 2007 06:03 PM

The definition by affirmative action, as originally stated by Johnson... was to right the wrongs of the past by giving people that were discriminated against, more chances. So in effect reverse discrimination...

enough said

Posted by: Maverick | June 28, 2007 06:34 PM

So, Mav, how would you right 300 years worth of wrongs?

Posted by: South Loudounian | June 28, 2007 06:39 PM

You don't try to, because you don't know what the wrongs really were in the first place, and then everyone would be crying out for their "wrongs" to be righted

Posted by: | June 28, 2007 06:49 PM

Really, anonymous poster, you've never heard of wrongs like slavery, Jim Crow, separate but equal, etc.? Interesting.

Posted by: South Loudounian | June 28, 2007 07:04 PM

What worries me is a right wing Supreme Court handing down terrible decisions for the next 20 or 30 years, especially if the Democrats blow 2008.

Posted by: Edmar | June 28, 2007 07:43 PM

I am glad that finally affirmative action programs are being chipped away. I have experienced the effects of affirmative action since the Bakke case. I see government workers who are incompetent and are unable to spell. However, their race enabled them to get the job. Affirmative action is nothing more than a chance to eliminate the white man from certain jobs. I agree with Michael Savage's comments on this topic. With the recent Michigan vote to eliminate Affirmative Action in jobs and now this Supreme Court ruling, we see the chipping away of programs for less qualified candidates.

The pendulum is slowing turning back. I have no guilt over the past discrimination issue since I had to work my arse off to achieve goals. No one handed me a special program.

Thanks to Chief Justice Roberts.

Posted by: Ken | June 28, 2007 07:46 PM

South, at least you don't impose quota's, also it's very easy to see now that Asians are also being discriminated against, because they 'stereotypically' do better then say, African Americans.

Posted by: Maverick | June 28, 2007 08:45 PM

No one handed me anything in my life either. I worked my ass off to get into a prestigious college, worked through two masters degrees, and continue to put fourth everything I have. I ju8st happen to realize that I was born into a middle class white suburb with decent schools and none of the barriers in my way that some others have (why don't you go read some of the surveys conducted showing people with idential resumes put before hiring committees- oddly enough, ones with minority-sounding names like Javier and Chantel don't get the jobs...). This isn't about righting past wrongs, it's about using the means available to mitigate barriers. Are there better ways to do it? Maybe, but the question to be resolved in the courts is not whether or not this is the best way to do it, but whether or not it is a legal and constitutional way to do it. Roberts fails on that one.

Posted by: Michael | June 28, 2007 09:06 PM

I hope one day the white racist liberals would realize affirmative action is racist against asians.

Posted by: armchair_warrior | June 28, 2007 11:11 PM

I wouldn't go as far as to call them white racist liberals...

but some of their ideas are a bit counter-productive. More like reverse discrimination to help those that have been discriminated against.

Posted by: Maverick | June 28, 2007 11:33 PM

Why should anyone just get a job or go to a school because they're nonwhite or underperforming minority?

If you don't live in the neighborhood, you don't get to go to the school in the neighborhood. It's really that simple. Putting black kids in white schools doesn't make them any smarter. Even thinking that is insulting -- as if somehow the black kids can't do better on their own, that they need smarter white kids' help.

Posted by: Why | June 29, 2007 05:25 AM

To the guy above who mentioned that defining ability first is difficult to do with any clarity.... What in the world do you expect local school districts to do in interpreting something as despicably vague as Justice Kennedy's opinion? Of course, this court has moved so far to the right I fully expect my right to bring any and all lawsuits to be fully eliminated by the end of this administration. Because like the conservatives do, they will lump all cases into one, without nuance or reason, and all cases will be judged to be without merit.....

Posted by: Suzanne | June 29, 2007 08:30 AM

Slavery (how does it affect directly the individual in question now), Jim Crow (same question, and what stopped those directly affected from moving to the North? If the claim is that they were taken against their will by slavery (In all cases were they so different from servants? they could say they were paid with room and board), what stopped them once they were free to move. Innocent Iraqis get killed for not moving, and many countries won't take them, but African-Americans could just say "Jim Crow" for doing nothing and got a bonus. Not familiar with exactly how Jim Crow necessitates compensation. Could they not work at all? What about numerous other discriminatory legislation and practices against other groups-everyone can have some sort of grievance. Is one supposed to redress every grievance in history, esp when generations who didn't have to undergo it claim it (think quite disingenuously; often their parents weren't the ones, but their children of the 50's to claim grievance)as some past chips to be cashed. Sorry, don't accept collective responsibility in any shape.), etc..

Posted by: Yes | June 29, 2007 11:01 AM

Yes, there are all sorts of subjective, impressionistic factors when one chooses who to hire; one has to work/practically live with them. Do the thought police expect the employer to reveal everything he/she thinks? What about choosing someone as a roomate? For a date?

Posted by: | June 29, 2007 11:06 AM

To Michael, barriers are (isn't that why David is so celebrated)iswhat make life interesting. Barriers are actually an advantage, a gift. You should be rejoicing in them.
Vive l' difference!

Posted by: | June 29, 2007 11:34 AM

To Michael, barriers are (isn't that why David is so celebrated)iswhat make life interesting. Barriers are actually an advantage, a gift. You should be rejoicing in them.
Vive l' difference!

Posted by: Don | June 29, 2007 11:34 AM

There are many lower class and lower middle class whites who don't have the benefits of the best schools or wealthy parents. They were not present when slavery or Jim Crow programs were in place. Yet, they have to struggle just as hard with disadvantages. Maybe, Jesse Jackson can legislate for lower middle class whites who need affirmative action due to their plight in life.

I just returned from a contractor's job for a federal agency in Washington, DC. You would not believe the number of blacks taking up government slots. I think these government agencies have to start recruiting more Asians and Europeans since the latter two groups are becoming the minorities.

I agree as Michael Savage states, "Liberalism is a mental disorder."
Rich, liberal whites with guilt complexes don't care if a less qualified black gets a job over a high achieving Asian or average middle class white kid.

I was not present when slavery was a concept. And, I have no guilt trip to give a job or advantage to an African American merely because of some ill conceived social program.

If an African American has achieved success based on his hard work, then he should be allowed to move up on his or her merits...

Enough is Enough.

Even the black professor in California who is leading states to turn back Affirmative Action programs sees the ridiculousness of the situation.

Time to even up the score and swing the pendulum back.


Posted by: Ken again | June 29, 2007 12:41 PM

Ken again, I think of myself as a traditional liberal, but don't like a lot about affirmative action, so take exception to your tarring liberals broadly.

Posted by: Always | June 29, 2007 01:35 PM

Yeah right, putting in an institutional remedy to remedy something one often can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt, makes it far easier to overturn in the future. So sure! Like people don't blindly follow the leader once some law , however ridiculous, is in place, or bogusly invoke precedent just because a law is in place. Could we have had such a program in place without the myth(now thoroughly disproven)of the unconscious? Yet we're still stuck with it. The unconscious, original sin, lots of effective opportunistic bogeymen-which will be the next convenient conceptual fabrication I wonder

Posted by: | June 29, 2007 03:37 PM

The last time there were 5 Justices simultaneously on the Court that were appointed by Democrats was 1965 (look it up on Wikipedia under "list of justices of the Supreme court" if you don't believe me).

Seven of the nine Justices currently on the Court were appointed by Republican Presidents:
Roberts (Bush II)
Alito (Bush II)
Thomas (Bush I)
Souter (Bush I)
Kennedy (Reagan)
Scalia (Reagan)
Stevens (Ford)
Ginsburg (Clinton)
Breyer (Clinton)

And the last five consecutive Justices to retire were all Republican appointees:
Rehnquist (Nixon)
O'Connor (Reagan)
Blackmun (Nixon)
Powell (Nixon)
Burger (Nixon)

So, maybe all of the Republicans who've posted here can tell me when exactly there was a 5-4 majority of liberals in their lifetime?

Posted by: puzzled | June 29, 2007 05:41 PM

Maybe you guys should catch a clue and look at what the driving motive here was- it's not about a leg up affirmative action program like hiring, colleges, etc., it was about mixing up elementary schools within the school district to ensure a diverse environment. The simple fact is, the lessons learned in the classroom are only a fraction of what you learn in school. You learn to socialize, you learn the basic dynamics of society. It is a disadvantage for all students to grow up in a segregated community, be it statutory or de facto. The purpose is not to discriminate for or against anyone here, it's simply to mix up the student bodies at the basic level (and assuming people think the goal is to move people into white schools to give them a heads up is quite a racist assumption as well).

In the case of these schools, though, the results really won't matter much, they'll probably just rewrite the law to divide people based on where they live rather than their race, and there's absolutely no laws or constitutional arguments against doing that. It's interesting to learn about people's closet racist beliefs and ignorance of the issues while fighting in the name of "equality" though...

Posted by: Michael | June 29, 2007 08:18 PM

It is truly amazing to read about the ignorance on "affirmative action: on this board, and racist attitudes from folks like Ken there among others (turn the pendulum back, and start discriminating against minorities again? Great attitude, although at least it means Clarence Thomas will be thrown off the court...).

In the Michigan case from last year, race was one factor among many that could be counted toward points (with a ceiling) towards admission. Other factors included economic background, geographic location, community service, etc. The system was set up practically so that anyone who didn't get the full points for the section really had no business going to college, yet morons look at the race issue and despite the clear intent of Brown (which was Separate can never be equal and integration must be forced, not color blindness), these ignoramouses lament how it's so sad how many white folks are discriminated against, nevermind that almost nobody has been able to demonstrate it in court (but from reading this thread people act like every minority hire is affirmative action in work, again, says something about the attitudes of people on this board and where their hearts truly lie on the issue, pun intended).

Posted by: Michael | June 29, 2007 08:30 PM

Hey Mike:

I was waiting for you to call the race card. Anytime someone has the gonads to state that they don't play the AA game, they are labeled a racist. Its simple, I take care of my family and me first. When I was a young lad in college I had liberal viewpoints. Then I got shafted a few times by some blacks getting jobs over me with lower GPAs and less qualifications. Guess I should just bend over and let some black dude jump ahead of me cause they is from a poor generation. Right Mike.

Call me a racist. I like the term. It means to me I am speaking out plainly and honestly. I don't play no games when it comes to food on my table. The day I let some black dude get an advantage over me simply due to some ill conceived notion of past discrimination, is the day you can place me in a coffin.

Ciao for now.


Posted by: Ken again | June 29, 2007 11:26 PM

So, what exactly did you mean by "we should swing the pendulum back the other way" then?

All you do is demonstrate your ability to echo right-wing talking points with no knowledge of the issue at hand. Affirmative Action isn't about appeasing past guilt, it's about solving current problems. Racism is an ongoing problem, and the state has a compelling interest in solving it. This program is about overcoming de facto segregation in the public schools because "separate but equal" can never be equal, whether it is legislated as it was in the past or whether it is de facto as it is today. It's not about a zero sum game of good vs bad schools, it's about raising everyone up startng at the basic level. but never mind, I didn't talk at a fifth grade level on talk radio spilling a bunch of ad hominem attacks against the stupid liberals so you probably didn't absorb any of that.

So how do you know they weren't as qualified? Did you go and survey people, did you read their essays and check their SAT scores, or are you just making an assumption because you are obviously a superior individual?

Posted by: Michael | June 30, 2007 12:36 AM

So much inherent racism here... if the Roberts' point is that it doesn'e exist, just send a copy of these commentaries...
If the point is that racism is over, it's not, I have seen much of it still living, including a outstanding dark skinned attorney, stopped outside of his own office and threatened with a billy club, though he produced proper identification. Had I not intervened (I am light skinned) something worse would have happened. The real problem came later when the dark skinned one barely remembered the incident, because it was just one of many.
The Klan is alive an well here; there are many more instances like or worse than the one described.

What I hear Ken saying, is "I lost the privilege of being white, and ti made me mad.

Posted by: We are the enemy | June 30, 2007 08:21 AM

To Mike and The Enemy:

I say I like my life. I worked hard to get it. I could care less about any AA program or social remedy. I think to many minorities expect a helping hand and keep harping on past issues. I was not born during the slavery movement. I was not a part of Jim Crow. Hence, I could care less about giving you an advantage over me to make up some past BS issue.

I say to both of you-- get a life and make it on your own. Stop having your hand out expecting Joe White to roll over for you and step aside so you can move ahead. Do it on your own merits.

That is called basic USA achievement. Ask any ethnic group like the Irish, Italian, Jews, and so forth. There was no affirmative action for them. They worked their asses off and made it on their own.

Now go get a life.

No hard feelings.


Posted by: Ken again | July 1, 2007 12:37 AM

I'm white, from a lower middle class family. I worked my ass off, got an appointment to a US Military academy, served honorably, earned two masters degrees, and have gone on to do far more. I know about acocmplishment, and I know about hard work and the American dream. I firmly believe, however, for the American Dream to survive, we need to do our best as a society to ensure all members have an opportunity to excel and all have the best educational environment avaiable to maximize their potential. This program harms no one and adds a great deal to the advancement of critical functions of the educational system. You sir need to get a life.

Posted by: Michael | July 1, 2007 04:07 PM


You state:

"I firmly believe, however, for the American Dream to survive, we need to do our best as a society to ensure all members have an opportunity to excel and all have the best educational environment avaiable to maximize their potential."

My response:

This is my last comment on this topic.

I can continue to show you the errors of your ways, but why bother. It is a waste of time. Your one of those disturbed far left liberals. Why not campaign for Ted Kennedy and his liberal ilk.

I again will quote Michael Savage, radio commentator:

"Liberalism is a mental disorder."

Michael, your in the wrong profession. Why not go back to school and get a Masters in Social Work. Then you can have a choice of what ghetto to work in. Society needs do- gooders like you to remedy all the discrimination perpetrated by evil white men who have created the Harlems, the Watts, and myriad ugly, lousy inner ghettos. So, join up today and save these areas. Work toward helping society improve the educational system through AA. I think it is a noble goal.

Me: I'm selfish. I like my life and working to help my family achieve better things in life. I really don't have time to worry about AA programs that effectively place some minority ahead of my kids.

Guys like you insure racial divisions will continue.


Posted by: Ken again | July 1, 2007 07:28 PM

Michael, if the clear intent of Brown is as you say, I thoroughly dislike that approach : "integration must be forced" and shouldn't be color-blind?! I can wipe that you know where. I hope that isn't the "clear intent" of it

Posted by: Jean | July 2, 2007 11:32 AM

Oh yeah, elementary schools shouldn't have representation? Children actuially are less likely to be prejudiced than their parents; they learn that stuff from their parents. Schools have "tracking" by percieving ability anyway, which isn't a racial thing.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 11:34 AM

Let me just state that it is possible to have major problems with the special interest preferential treatment/"equalizing" attitude and also not have the alternative be the "me and my family first, entitled to my life" attitude that Ken states (even though agree with some of what else he says)

Posted by: Dan | July 2, 2007 11:37 AM

Racism is more alive now in some ways (sanctioning profiling just for starters), only it is often the "oppressed groups" in positions of power (the recruiting by the police and the military, and now think it is a right/entitlement to use the power of being given the position): note that frequently the quickest to label someone a terrorist(also sanctioned by the importance of their brand on religion in their lives)on sight(say for having a beard, and self-validating flattery of one's "instincts/intuition")to be so anxious to proclaim their patriotism and how entitled they now are to belong (as if to spend their self-proclaimed capital, a la Bush in 2004)are, amazingly, African-Americans. I have heard many African-Americans (often they are the most vocal ones voicing this) in the military say "we've tried for so long to get a place in the Middle East, and now that we have it we're not going away" as if cheating to get to a desired position is what it's all about, normal, and to be commended.It is as if they didn't learn the right lessons.

Posted by: Sam | July 2, 2007 11:51 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company