The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced on Monday that it added another case to its docket regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action in public universities’ admissions processes.
The latest case involves a Michigan ballot initiative passed in 2006 that prohibits the state’s public schools from basing its admissions process on a prospective student’s race, sex or ethnicity – a measure similar to the “One Florida” initiative implemented by then-Gov. Jeb Bush that has made using these factors illegal since 2000.
This is the second case currently under SCOTUS review regarding affirmative action and college admissions practices. The Supreme Court will hand down their decision on Fisher v. University of Texas, in which Abigail Fisher claims that she was denied admission into UT because she is Caucasian.
Both cases question the validity of affirmative action and whether this type of racism defies the “equal protection” provision of the Constitution.
Affirmative action is undoubtedly a complicated issue. On one side, there are the historical effects of racism that affirmative action is intended to counteract. However, the only way that the precedent of affirmative action is implemented is by adhering to scrutiny based solely on race. In a sense, affirmative action neutralizes racism by implementing it – but only in a manner that it positively affects minorities.
Colleges should not be able to use any physical attributes as factors in reviewing their admissions applicants. Doing so only reiterates the perception that something like a person’s race should have significant social value and that the racist actions and beliefs of the past had a relative affirmation besides ignorance and hatred.
Fischer is not arguing just because she did not get into the UT. Rather, she is arguing because there is a system in place that grants superiority to one race over another. Even though the motivation behind the Michigan initiative and UT’s admissions practices were to ensure diversity and equality, the means by which both of them come to that end only ensures that the effects of racism continue to be prevalent in society.
Racism is an abhorrent and repugnant aspect of humanity, the affects of which can never be undone. Society’s only hope is the mere optimistic fortitude that the misguided actions of past generations are never repeated and that we fight to educate the world on the fact that a person’s race is irrelevant.