The last time the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing race to be considered in higher education admissions was back in 2016 when liberal Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat on the Court. This year, the much more conservative Supreme Court heard two cases accusing Harvard and the University of North Carolina of discriminating against Asian Americans in the college admissions process. When the Court rules on these cases next year, the outcome will likely impact the racial makeup of colleges across the country for years to come. And according to Straight Arrow News contributor Matthew Continetti, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
The public has been against preferences since they were first imposed. And today’s anti-preferences coalition includes not just Whites, but also members of racial and ethnic minorities. A Pew Research Center poll from the spring of 2020 found that 73% of Americans did not believe that race or ethnicity should factor into college admissions.
Majorities of self-identified White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian respondents all said race or ethnicity should not be a factor. Pew ran the same poll this year. The numbers have not changed. If Americans truly believed that only race-based policies can bring about a diverse society, then one would expect them to support color consciousness when it is put to a vote.
They don’t. They reject it and not just in red states. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209 to ban discrimination by race in public employment, education and contracting. Almost a quarter of a century later in 2020, Californians were asked to vote on Proposition 16, which would have repealed Prop 209.
It lost by a 14-point margin. For too long, the Court has said that discrimination by race is necessary to solve the problem of discrimination by race. The result has been a legal morass, a constitutional tragedy and racial alienation. If the Court fixes its mistake this term, its legitimacy won’t be questioned. Its integrity won’t be endangered. The will of the people won’t be subverted. It will be affirmed.