In Grutter v. Bolliger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), the Supreme Court somehow upheld the continuing discrimination of affirmative action in higher education. In that particular case, it directly regarded law school admission at the University of Michigan. White students, like Barbara Grutter, were (are) systematically denied opportunities based on the color of their skin despite having superior test scores, grades, and IQs.
Sandra Day O’Connor, in delivering the majority opinion, wrote: “The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.” Grutter, at 310.
It’s only been 14 years but that is close enough, long enough (too long really). The Trump Administration is ready to direct the DOJ to uphold the honest principles that Justice Thomas urged in his Grutter dissent:
I therefore can understand the imposition of a 25-year time limit only as a holding that the deference the Court pays to the Law School’s educational judgments and refusal to change its admissions policies will itself expire. At that point these policies will clearly have failed to “‘eliminate the [perceived] need for any racial or ethnic'” discrimination because the academic credentials gap will still be there. [citation omitted] The Court defines this time limit in terms of narrow tailoring, [internal citation omitted] but I believe this arises from its refusal to define rigorously the broad state interest vindicated today. [internal citation omitted]. With these observations, I join the last sentence of Part III of the opinion of the Court.
For the immediate future, however, the majority has placed its imprimatur on a practice that can only weaken the principle of equality embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Equal Protection Clause. “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 527, 559, […] (1896) (Harlan, J., dissenting). It has been nearly 140 years since Frederick Douglass asked the intellectual ancestors of the Law School to “[d]o nothing with us!” and the Nation adopted the Fourteenth Amendment. Now we must wait another 25 years to see this principle of equality vindicated. I therefore respectfully dissent from the remainder of the Court’s opinion and the judgment.
The time is now. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will begin pursuing schools engaging in this hideous practice.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.
The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.
The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.
Supporters and critics of the project said it was clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.
The project is another sign that the civil rights division is taking on a conservative tilt under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It follows other changes in Justice Department policy on voting rights, gay rights and police reforms.
Roger Clegg, a former top official in the civil rights division during the Reagan administration and the first Bush administration who is now the president of the conservative Center for Equal Opportunity, called the project a “welcome” and “long overdue” development as the United States becomes increasingly multiracial.
“The civil rights laws were deliberately written to protect everyone from discrimination, and it is frequently the case that not only are whites discriminated against now, but frequently Asian-Americans are as well,” he said.
I once brushed off the possible chance to work for the DOJ. This is one of the few times I wish I had gone through and was still there. I’d volunteer in a heartbeat.