I had missed this story, but catching up with NR’s Bench Memos today I learned from Carrie Severino that Donald Trump joined in the criticism of Justice Scalia’s pertinent questioning during oral argument in the Fisher case. Readers probably recall that Scalia raised the problem of the “mismatch” that arises when blacks students receive preferential admission to college and must then compete with students who have significantly better credentials. Scalia wondered, quite reasonably, whether these students would be better off at a lesser school where they could compete on a level playing field, so to speak
Here is what occurred after Jake Tapper raised the subject:
TRUMP: Well, I thought [Scalia’s] remarks were very tough. I mean, I don’t want to comment on them, I mean he’s a respected Supreme Court judge, but I thought his remarks actually were very very tough.
Q: Tough in a bad way, or in a good way, or . . .
TRUMP: Well, I thought they were very very tough to a certain community, no question about that. I though he was very tough to the African-American community, actually.
Q: It sounds like you’re not supporting what he said.
TRUMP: I don’t like what he said, no. I don’t like what he said. I heard him, I was like, ‘Let me read it again,’ ‘cause I actually saw it in print, and I’m going — I read a lot of stuff! — I go, ‘Whoa!’
Trump is the king of “tough,” politically incorrect comments, including remarks about members of minority groups. It’s thus amusing that he recoils from Scalia’s.
The big question, though, is whether Trump favors racial preferences for blacks (in the name of “affirmative action”). The answer is, he does.
Here is Trump’s exchange with Chuck Todd on the subject this summer:
Affirmative action. Should we keep it? Yes or no.
I’m fine with affirmative action. I mean, I think —
Should it be expanded? Or should it —
— we’ve been having —
— be limited?
Well, you know, you have to also go free market. You have to go capability. You have to do a lot of things. But I’m fine with affirmative action. We’ve lived with it for a long time. And I lived with it for a long time. And I’ve had great relationships with lots of people. So I’m fine with it.
This weekend when Tapper gave Trump another crack at the same question, the tycoon didn’t walk back his answer to Todd.
“Affirmative action” can mean different things (e.g., outreach in recruiting). But in context, Trump is clearly referring to racial preferences in actual selection. That’s why he said you have to consider “capability” among “a lot of things.”
No one should be surprised that Trump is “fine” with race-based preferences. He’s always been more liberal than conservative. In his presidential campaign, he found a few hot button issues on which to take hard line positions that depart from center-left orthodoxy, immigration being the main one.