The Supreme Court of the United Sates has handed down some consequential decisions, as is its habit, before retiring for summer break. The ruling grabbing most attention saw the justices decide 6-3 against the affirmative action practices of Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The desire to redress discrimination against minorities and women to give all Americans equality of opportunity in life is well-placed, yet affirmative action policies have devolved into weighting college admissions solely according to race.
The question should be asked: has affirmative action solved the racial disparity problems it was tasked with remedying? Stanford fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes that the practice has done little to raise poor black Americans out of poverty. While more black students are gaining admission, a majority drop out of their degree before graduating. Meanwhile, Asian students are required to achieve much higher scores on their SATs to be considered over a black student. White students are at the bottom of the heap.
Elite universities seem happy to continue discriminating on the basis of race because racial diversity has come to be prized as an end in itself. Back in 2003, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor imagined a day when race-based preferences would not be necessary to create a racially-diverse student body. But now progressives hold to the platitude that "diversity is strength" even though the statement doesn't hold up to much scrutiny. However, carefully curating who gets into their programs is a way to maintain ideological homogeneity, which may be the true goal.
As this case has been working its way up to the Court, elite universities have been seeking loopholes to continue their admissions policies, lowering academic standards and looking to resurrect "adversity scores". The Babylon Bee cheekily suggested a better way might be to ask prospective candidates their sauce preference: ranch, BBQ or soy?
Justice Thomas criticized the dissenting opinions of Justices Sotomoyar and Jackson for writing as if Americans are "all inexorably trapped in a fundamentally racist society." Coverage in the corporate media similarly declared that this decision will perpetuate "systemic racism". But affirmative action can only treat the symptoms of a deeper problem. As Ali points out in her piece: legislation to funnel the underprivileged into higher education will not help if they don't have that which fosters "habits associated with stability and success in life" – strong families.
In another 6-3 ruling, the Court struck down President Biden's plan to wipe out $400 BN worth of student debt. The majority insisted the President could not do so by executive order and must get Congressional approval. The President has said he is planning to circumvent the Court's ruling using a higher education Act.
In a case that will interest Christians, the Court ruled 6-3 that Colorado website designer Lorie Smith does not have to build products commissioned to celebrate same-sex marriage. After the harassment of baker Jack Phillips over his refusal to make cakes for gay weddings, the Court ruled that Colorado authorities had been "hostile" to Phillip's religious convictions, but failed to rule that forcing consciences is a form of compelled speech. The case in favor of Smith makes a broader free speech ruling and will help in the defence of religious liberty.
The Court also ruled unanimously in favor of postal worker, Gerald Groff, who was disciplined for refusing to work on Sundays.