Take action to defend affirmative action

Templediscrimination

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could mean the death knell for racial and ethnic diversity on college campuses. It could threaten gender-based affirmative action as well.

But, despite the notion that the High Court is "protected" from public opinion and politics, the American people do have the ability to influence the case's outcome.

Ever since the modern-day civil rights movement and its victories, the extreme right wing in the United States has been gunning for any and all democratic gains from those struggles. This includes remedies for past and present discrimination, such as affirmative action.

Affirmative action has already been hobbled by the Bakke decision, and state laws driven by Ward Connerly and crew. This is the logical outcome of a campaign to destroy government mediation in cases of past and present discrimination.

Today the Supreme Court is packed with legal representatives of this extreme right-wing worldview.

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that universities could take into account racial and ethnic diversity in their admissions process, although they could not use "quotas." Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the author of the majority opinion in that 5-4 ruling.

Public universities could use race in their complex admission point system, as they use children of alumni as a factor, because the goal of racially diverse campuses was good for the country, democratic, and constitutional, the court said.

And indeed studies show that while class-based considerations can increase the numbers of black and Latino college students, race-based considerations result in slightly higher percentages, more reflective of the population at large.

In 2004, one study of 146 selective colleges and universities found that Blacks and Latinos would account for 4 percent of the student body without any affirmative action considerations. Affirmative action based on race/ethnicity increased that number to 12 percent, the study found. With socio-economic affirmative action the number of black and Latino students would have been 10 percent. In the U.S. population as a whole, African Americans and Latinos make up 13 and 16 percent, respectively.

O'Connor retired in 2005 and in her stead President George W. Bush appointed Samuel Alito, who vehemently opposes any attempts to remedy racial, gender or other types of discrimination.

The four dissenting justices in 2003 were Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and William Rehnquist. Chief Justice John Roberts, who has written opinions hostile to remedies for racist discrimination, replaced Rehnquist. In short, the court is even further to the right and hostile to civil rights than it was in 2003.

To make matters worse, on the more liberal side of the court, Justice Elena Kagan is recusing herself from the case. She was the Obama administration's solicitor general and worked on the case before being appointed to the Supreme Court.

It looks grim indeed. The court will hear arguments this fall on the case, which is based on a white student's suit against the University of Texas claiming she was denied admission because of her race. It is sure to be an issue in the 2012 elections.

The far right will try to throw sand in the electorate's eyes with claims of "reverse discrimination," that men and whites will have rights taken away. 

These are divide-and-conquer tactics. Affirmative action is a remedy for past and present discrimination. Equal protection under the Constitution is there exactly for that reason - to remedy the ongoing damage from the racist institution of slavery. Racism and other forms of discrimination still exist. Therefore remedies need to exist. These remedies have benefited all Americans, including women, people with disabilities and others.

That's where the American people come in. Electing a president and Congress that will stand squarely with civil rights and diversity sends a message to the court, a message they will hear loud and clear. Just think of how much more further right the court could go with a President Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul.

Defeating the enemies of affirmative action in the elections is not the only way to fight. Students, families, unions, schools - the 99% - have to send other messages through petitions, demonstrations, letters to the editor, online campaigns, that racial diversity and affirmative action are valued and necessary for a 21st century democratic America.

 

Photo: PW/Ben Sears

 

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  • One is truly sorry if, you Ryan, or soren, or anyone else for that matter, was offended by my comment. That was not my intent-only wishing that those of your ilk would try to move from your comfort zone and think deeper.
    Please accept my apology.
    However, the shallow reasoning that you, Ryan and soren offer seems incredible.
    We agree that ON THE SURFACE your reasoning seems sensible. A pity those who use you and soren's reasoning seem to stay there.
    Reality based, penetrating socio-economic systems like capitalism have a real genesis, one laid out by humanity's greatest economist, Karl Marx.
    Capitalism begins with the awful INEQUALITY of war, murder, racism, depopulation and last but not least-slavery.
    So -may I borrow your word Ryan?-the"spirit" of both Affirmative Action and "Egalitarianism" have to operate in a real world context, one which has eliminated all lofty ideas, leaving us with the crushing reality of slavery-a slavery not only for women, African Americans and Latinos- but slavery for all who are beholden to the brute force of money and capital and have to labor for their bread.
    The Communist Party, in its brilliant way, faces this heartless force of money and capital, identifying capitalism as a system which first enslaves with whip ,club and auction block -and now, with racist and sexist inequality and wage slavery, demanding that corporations and governments own up to their brutal past of inequality(by which it gained its fortune)and demands, through the colossal power of labor and people power to organize to counter this historical legacy of all around slavery-with Affirmative Action to blunt the cruel oppression of especially women and people of color-the prime victims of capitalism.
    The universe does not operate by abstract, nice-sounding ideas of egalitarianism, truth, justice, but on realities that workers are quite capable of facing down
    and overcoming(note how the working class defeated chattel slavery and Jim Crow, and now to win the practical application of Affirmative Action, notwithstanding your position). Communists recognize these victories, build on these, to achieve advanced justice for these oppressed groups, in the real world, to unify the struggles of the workers, to favor certain groups, so that all groups can move forward together, as workers do, against capitalism, for themselves.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/02/2012 5:30pm (2 years ago)

  • "One wonders if you can effectively read and reason."?

    How rude.

    Soren's comment is completely sensible. The principle behind Affirmative Action policies is to favor certain groups over others based on race, gender, and other factors beyond an individual's control.

    To support Affirmative Action policies is against the spirit of Egalitarianism, which is EXACTLY what the Communist Party stands for. To be truly egalitarian is to treat all individuals as equal regardless of race, gender, or anything else.

    If one adheres to the principles of egalitarianism, then one must necessarily believe that it is categorically wrong to favor one group of people over another -- which is exactly what Affirmative Action policies do.

    An individual's worthiness of something should be determined by merit alone. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Posted by Ryan, 03/01/2012 5:13pm (2 years ago)

  • Add to my last comment Africans, and its whole diaspora, in Central, South America and the Caribbean, the comment is remiss, for there is no humanity without it, this indispensable section of the working class.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 02/29/2012 2:39pm (2 years ago)

  • Soren, with all due respect, you demonstrate, with your comment, your shameful and dangerous ignorance, just that kind of dangerous ignorance that the Communist Party warns of and fights against.
    Your comment is dangerous for all you mention, all, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, and especially poor "whites".
    One wonders if you can effectively read and reason.
    The Communist Party fights for equality of and for all who labor.
    To ignore and deny the past, present and probable future discrimination against women, LBGTs, Asians, Latinos, African Americans, Socialists, Communists, Native Peoples and others historically discriminated against, is to discriminate against all in this group of "whites"-not the opposite, that you suggest.
    By paying less for equal work and a systemic under-employment and repeating discriminatory practices in training, education and advancement in employment for these groups, and its by-product of dividing ALL workers, based on these discriminatory patterns- not only are the wages of "whites" also ruthlessly depressed, but jobs themselves are obliterated, to leave millions of millions of "whites" unemployed and also under-employed as the other groups are.
    The Communist Party fights for unity of all groups and equality for all groups, especially for those historically victimized by racist and sexist patterns BECAUSE it fights to unify whites with these groups, so we can raise wages, benefits and improve working conditions, and control production as a whole for the benefit of the unified, whole, united working class.
    Further, public education itself is at peril if the living conditions and financial viability of the unified, whole,
    working people and their children is not protected in a robust and decisive way, and very soon, so we can for one protect ourselves from the ignorance you are showing, along with the terrible ignorance of the ruling class.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 02/29/2012 2:27pm (2 years ago)

  • Why is the communist party support race preferences over class preferences? What kind of communists are you that you prefer well to do blacks/hispanics over poor whites/asians?

    Posted by soren, 02/27/2012 3:22pm (3 years ago)

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