The Supreme Court and Diversity

Editor’s Note: Roger Clegg is president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which joined an amicus brief in each of the school cases decided by the Supreme Court.

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the race-based assignments made by the school districts in Seattle and Louisville were unconstitutional. Five justices voted for that bottom line, and that’s good news. But the fact that parts of the opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts–and joined in its entirety by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito–were not joined by Justice Kennedy, who wrote separately, makes it necessary to do a close and careful read of the two opinions.

These cases dealt with efforts by public school officials to achieve more “diversity” by assigning students based on their race. But they may have an impact on higher education as well.

Let the Sunshine In

Last November, voters in Michigan overwhelmingly mandated an end to the use of racial and ethnic preferences in, among other things, public university admissions there. In a Democratic year in a blue state–and over the opposition of the educational establishment, most leaders in both political parties, the media, big business and labor unions, and even prominent clergy–58 percent of the people rejected this kind of discrimination.

One would think and hope that the citizens of North Carolina would feel the same way. Most Americans agree that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, people should be judged not on the color of their skin, but the content of their character. When it comes to higher education, that means treating all applicants under the same standards, not having different criteria depending on a student’s race.