Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

July 17, 2013

Race preferences rumble on

The entrenched regime of racial preferences in American academia is a fit subject for study by the nation’s top psychiatrists.

It’s never OK to discriminate on the basis of race in American life, except when it is. Schools lionize the 1964 Civil Rights Act in their classrooms, and then violate it in their admissions offices. They will obfuscate, sneak around, and lie, all to preserve their treasured preferences so they can make the admissions numbers look right — regardless of the consequences.

This system is bad for the moral fiber of academic institutions, bad for the ideal of race blindness in America, and bad, the latest research suggests, for the minorities supposedly benefiting. It is good only for salving the guilty, race-obsessed consciences of university administrators and appeasing the PC gods and the usual interest groups.

The Supreme Court decided to let the dinosaur keep roaming the Earth, although it tightened up the standards in its 7-1 ruling. The court said that racial discrimination is permissible in fostering educational diversity, but schools have to prove that such discrimination is narrowly tailored.

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “Strict scrutiny does not permit a court to accept a school’s assertion that its admissions process uses race in a permissible way without closely examining how the process works in practice.”

No, it will require “a careful judicial inquiry.”

In other words, the Supreme Court has spoken: If you are wondering if a given school meets the Supreme Court-approved standard, there’s an easy way to find out — sue and spend years trying to find out. The answer, by the way, will probably change the next time the Supreme Court deigns to hear the issue and come up with its latest exquisitely nuanced test.

In the real world, there is little doubt that racial preferences are a failure. In their judicious book Mismatch, Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. catalog the twisted effect of preferences on schools beholden to them: “The pervasive secrecy that veils the operation and effects of racial preferences even from most academics has led to deception, ostracism of truth-tellers, lack of accountability, and an unwillingness to face awkward facts and undertake needed reforms.”

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