(June 29, official Washington Examiner editorial)  In a clarion call for equal treatment under the law, the Supreme Court today wisely and eloquently rejected race-based admissions programs at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. Finally, justly, the time has come to make education the colorblind enterprise it should always have been.

The 6-3 court majority recognized “the broad sweep of the Equal Protection Clause” of the 14th Amendment and validated the promise in Brown v. Board of Education that “the right to a public education ‘must be made available to all on equal terms.’” Moreover, wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority, “as the [Brown] plaintiffs had argued, ‘no state has any authority under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.’”

These dictates, as originally written, were unmistakable. Both legally and morally, they were clearer than crystal. But cities, states, and courts for nearly 70 years erected ungainly contraptions and conceive ugly workarounds to avoid the logical imperative of Brown and the 14th Amendment. That imperative, as Roberts wrote, is that “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.” Quoting an earlier case, he wrote that “distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.”

In practice, the systems used by the two universities have worked to disadvantage one minority group, Asian Americans, greatly in favor of Hispanic and black applicants.  In the group of students whose grades and test scores placed them in the “top academic decile,” more than 80% of black applicants to UNC were admitted, while fewer than 70% of Asians were. “In the second highest academic decile, the disparity is even starker: 83% of black applicants were admitted, while … 47% of Asian applicants were admitted.” … [The full editorial is at this link.]

 

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