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Racial Preferences in College Admissions: Time to Go


Nothing the Supreme Court deals with is not political. But a case over affirmative action in college admissions has arrived at an especially political time. This is an election year. Working-class whites are considered swing voters, and the president running for re-election is both African-American and a beneficiary of the finest higher education our country offers. Come early fall, the Supreme Court will probably hear a case in which a white student, Abigail Fisher, claims that a race-conscious policy for admissions to the University of Texas violated her constitutional rights.

The case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, centers on the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection. A resident of Sugar Land, Texas, Fisher now attends Louisiana State University.

As for President Obama — regardless of whether affirmative action served him, he clearly had the right stuff. Obama graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude and runs a highly competent presidency in tough economic times. If anything, he'd be an argument for affirmative action. Nonetheless, I hope the Supreme Court declares an end to race- and ethnicity-based preferences, and pushes the whole matter out of our lives.

If Republicans have a pulse, they'll be whipping up resentments among working-class whites hit hard by the new economy. In recent years, Democrats have wisely moved away from specifically helping "minorities" to helping the middle class. This case could breathe life into an old wedge issue Democrats thought was mostly over.

Twelve years ago, two liberal scholars produced an important book titled, "Why the White Working Class Still Matters: America's Forgotten Majority." Authors Ruy Teixeira and Joel Rogers urged Democrats to trade race-based programs for class-based ones. They held that economically depressed whites, a group that includes office and retail workers, saw their values of equality, fairness and reward for effort under attack in racial preferences.

And politics aside, they had a point.

"It is very difficult intellectually," Teixeira and Rogers wrote, "to justify giving a break of hundreds of points on SAT scores to the daughter of upper-middle-class, highly educated blacks and giving nothing remotely similar to the daughter of poor white high school dropouts."

Since then, America's churning demographics have seen a flourishing black middle class and Latinos overtaking both whites and blacks in population growth. Asians, meanwhile, rapidly added to their numbers. The changes have been so fast that a 2003 Supreme Court decision seeking a middle ground on affirmative action may be obsolete.

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the justices ruled 5 to 4 that the University of Michigan Law School could not use a point system to favor "disadvantaged minorities" but could consider race in efforts to achieve diversity. Writing for the majority opinion, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speculated that attention to race would no longer be necessary 25 years hence.

But are they necessary in today's multiracial society? A class-based approach — giving preferences to students from low-income families — would disproportionately help poor minorities while not discriminating against others from similar circumstances.

The University of Texas had already gone some of the distance with its 10 percent rule: The top 10 percent of grads in every high school are automatically admitted. That benefits students from struggling district schools. Fisher placed below the 10 percent at her high school, which put her into another pool of applicants for which race became a factor.

If today's more conservative Supreme Court throws out racial preferences, that could be to the good. O'Connor was right that they should be temporary. Only her timing may have been off. And though Democrats may deem the case's timing unfortunate, they too should want this issue in their past.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




6 Comments | Post Comment
-----Can someone hand the writer a clue? ---the 90's are OVER.

Meanwhile, the 11th hour of the CFR handover/ TREASON and EIUGENICS OP
viz a viz their slave hive across the Pacific remains UNMENTIONED.
Comment: #1
Posted by: How Now
Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:13 PM
I agree it's time to rethink our affirmative action policies in the University, but let's actually think, because affirmative action has always been an inflammatory issue. It deals with two real world issues, affirmative action in the University and affirmative action in the Workplace. If both are repealed, women's rights will be dealt a major blow.
Consider how repealing affirmative action will effect women in particular, considering the inflammatory rhetoric of the Republican candidates. Currently the Republican ultra conservatives and the religious right accuse women, in so many words, of being baby murderers if they dare use contraception, and they are planning to ban "the morning after" pill in case that sperm actually did find an egg. Santorum wants women out of the military and the work force to become stay at home Mom's worried and unable to enjoy sex for fear another child may result.(When a biological man, carries a baby to full term and gives birth naturally, he will have earned the right to speak about contraception and abortion.)
Affirmative action has opened many doors for many minorities. Women are still considered a "minority" and it seems the agenda is to again marginalize women, this time using religion and moral authority as their weapon of choice. Hillary Clinton, when delivering her commencement speech to Barnard College states: “Marginalization of women and girls goes on. It is one of humankind's oldest problems.” The Civil Rights movement and the National Organization of Women worked hand in hand to pass affirmative action to the benefit of many. Today, women are finding their voices, and those voices are being heard far beyond their own narrow circumstances. Think carefully when you cast your vote that you don't vote into office someone who believes his moral authority supersedes your own.
Comment: #2
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:22 AM
"Think carefully when you cast your vote that you don't vote into office someone who believes his moral authority supersedes your own."

Here, here! Vote Obama out because he believes his moral authority supercedes the Catholic religion. Universitiy and government quotas also represent an authority superceding it's imperative and legal parameters. Froma sees what may be coming and wishes to ratchet things down a little. Some foresight shown by a liberal is a rare but good thing. Only her timimg may be off.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Tom
Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:50 AM
"When a biological man, carries a baby to full term and gives birth naturally, he will have earned the right to speak about contraception and abortion"
Ooh, does onyone recognize the moral superiority demanded by this statement? The writer sees no such thing. Liberals deride religion, often for just cause, but fail to hear the "Church Lady" in their own voice. A lecture from the left is just another lecture, after all. Here we have a liberal expressing an old thought as if it is new and sooo interesting.
"Tell him to plough it with a ram's horn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And sow it all over with one pepper corn,
And he shall be a true lover of mine."
It is arrogant to reject another's opinion unless an impossible task is performed and further to claim a moral authority supeceding that of others until the task is performed. A liberal method of silencing thoughts not accepted by the Kulture Kops. I guess the high horse provides an altitude above all of the silly noise being heard below the liberal and organized religion pulpits. That rare air is conducive to self-deafness and mental narcolepsy, and seems as addictive as any drug offered in dark alleys.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Tom
Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:42 AM
Don't you love being admonished to "actually think" by someone who goes on to mealy-mouth tarnished ideas picked up at some JuCo cafeteria SOUP rally? Any thought with more than one calorie is too heavy for some brains to struggle with. Try this, "When a loud liberal carries an original thought to full term and gives birth naturally by expressing that thought clearly and without condescension, he/she will have earned the right to speak about things that truly matter." Talk about self-marginalization.

Ouch, you're making me laugh.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Tom
Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:24 AM
The federal government encourages racism. It is a tools to divide Americans. The same people who catragorize us are the fisrt to scream racism. I refused to answer the census questions about what ethnic groups reside in our house and continued to refuse when the census lady came to ask in person. Think about how many forms we fill out through out our lives that ask about our race or ethnic group and ask what is the government doing with this information. If the answer is nothing then its not important to know. If they are doing anything with this information then that means THE GOVERNMENT IS MAKING POLICY BASED ON RACE. Policy based on race = RACISM
Comment: #6
Posted by: SCOTT
Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:04 PM
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