Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
– U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIV
What is so difficult to understand about the 14th Amendment?
To believe the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, you need more than a basic comprehension of the English language to understand what is meant by “equal protection under the law.”
It seems simple and straightforward to me. Of course, I don’t have a law degree. I am not a self-proclaimed “constitutional scholar.” I only wear a black robe right after a shower.
Yet, in a 5-4 ruling last week, the justices found the 14th Amendment really doesn’t mean what it says. They found there is a compelling state interest to discriminate on the basis of race to promote a more diverse society.
For the life of me, I haven’t been able to find any justification for this goal in the Constitution. And, I was taught in civics class that the Supreme Court is supposed to follow the law of the land.
As usual, Clarence Thomas got it exactly right. He quoted Frederick Douglass, the famous abolitionist, to deliver what he called “a message lost on today’s majority.”
In his 1865 speech to a group of abolitionists, Douglass said Americans had always been anxious about what to do with black people.
“I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us!” he said. “Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us!”
“If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall!” Douglass said.
Thomas wrote that he, like Douglass, believes blacks can achieve in “every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators.”
“Because I wish to see all students succeed whatever their color, I share, in some respect, the sympathies of those who sponsor the type of discrimination advanced by the University of Michigan Law School,” he said.
“The Constitution does not, however, tolerate institutional devotion to the status quo in admissions policies when such devotion ripens into racial discrimination,” Thomas said.
Antonin Scalia added, the “Constitution proscribes government discrimination on the basis of race, and state-provided education is no exception.”
The Constitution must remain the basis for judicial decisions. Rulings are not supposed to reflect the wishful thinking of the court. They are not supposed to reflect their political views. They are not supposed to reflect their own ideas about what will make us a better society. They are supposed to be arbiters of the law.
Besides the clear constitutional arguments against racial preferences, such policies are fraught with danger for other practical reasons.
If we begin defining people by race, who will verify those classifications? In this increasingly diverse and multicultural society we live in, how do we determine who is black and who is white? Is there some genetic test? What percentage of black blood entitles a person to racial preferences? What percentage of white or Asian blood disqualifies a person from those preferences?
These are just some of the problems with the diversity craze. Once we go down this slippery slope, forget about equal protection under the law, forget about the concept of individual rights, forget about an achievement-based or merit-based society. And forget about the Constitution.
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