Bill Clinton’s justices have their say

In an oily little concurring opinion, the two Clinton appointees to the Supreme Court — Justices Ginsburg and Breyer — put just enough distance between themselves and Justice O’Connor’s “expectation” of an end to preferences after 25 years. In the true Clinton internationalist spirit, Ginsburg (the author) starts with the odd and (one would have thought) irrelevant observation that O’Connor’s aspiration accords with “the international understanding of . . .affirmative action.” Then she moves on to the important business of making sure no one can hold the Court to Justice O”Connor’s expectation. Ginsburg suggests that it is unrealistic to expect blacks to compete on equal terms with whites because blacks continue to be the victims of discrimination and because not enough money is spent on inner city schools. Ginsburg concludes that, as lower school education in minority communities improves, “one may hope, but not firmly forecast, that over the next generation’s span, progress toward nondiscrimination and genuinely equal opportunity will make it safe to sunset affirmative action.” In other words, don’t hold your breath.
Ginsburg ignores substantial evidence that black students lag way behind white students even when factors such as school attended and parental income are factored out. Actually, no one really knows why blacks as a group can’t compete for admission to elite colleges and professional schools without receiving substantial preferences. But we do know that Ginsburg’s explanation is incorrect.
HINDROCKET adds: You’re right, Deacon. No one really understands the abysmal level of black academic performance. But it clearly has nothing to do with discrimination, income level or the amount of money spent on schools (actually, immense sums of money are spent on bad inner-city schools). I believe the data show that the children of black parents who both have PhDs do worse in school, on the average, than white children whose parents are high school graduates. The Court’s decision, by exempting blacks from competing with whites and Asians, assures that this situation will continue. Hispanics might be a different case, but for ongoing immigration. But as long as immigration continues, there will be a constant influx of poor, non-English speaking people to bring down the Hispanic average. So affirmative action will continue to be “necessary” for Hispanics indefinitely as well.


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