SCOTUS Affirmative Action Ruling: Affirming the Will of the People

Written by Pauline Wolak on April 25, 2014

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced its decision in an affirmative action case out of Michigan. Schuette v. BAMN pitted Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette against the group By Any Means Necessary (Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary). The 6-2 decision was a victory, not just for AG Schuette, but for the people of Michigan. After all, it was the people (me included) that voted to ban the practice in 2006. Tuesday’s ruling essentially affirmed the will of the people. If BAMN wants to bring back affirmative action to state entities, it’s going to have to overturn Proposal 2; a nearly unachievable task.

The University of Michigan, where it all started, was quick to respond. Admissions Director Ted Spencer said, “It’s impossible to achieve diversity on a regular basis if race cannot be used as one of many factors.” With all due respect Ted, I thought universities were in the business of training and educating young adults, giving them the necessary skills to find and retain employment. What the hell does that have to do with diversity?

George Washington of BAMN opted for the tried and true race card. “It’s a terrible decision. It’s a racist decision. It says that white voters have a right to take away from black and Latino citizens the right to the only programs that will get their children in into the University of Michigan.” Way to live up to your name, jackwagon.

My favorite response may have been Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press:

So what Michigan and other states have to decide is: If you have students with less than a 4.0 grade point average and the ability to matriculate at your universities, do you want all of those students to be white, do you deliberately pull from different ethnic backgrounds to ensure diversity, or do you put them all in a hat and draw names in hopes of achieving some kind of 21st-Century diversity?

Oh, there is one other decision you have to make: What kind of workforce, what kind of future population, are you developing when you cannot consider diversity?

Again, it has to be asked. Why should diversity (i.e. race) be considered in the first place? I don’t care if you’re black, white, green or blue. You know what should get you into college? Good grades, involvement in activities, clubs, or sports, being a well-rounded student. You know what shouldn’t matter? Your skin color, having a vagina, or being gay.

When we step outside the utopian la-la land of academia and enter the real world, we find out a few things. Chief among them, no one cares what color you are!! When I looked for a pediatrician for my children, I picked the person with the best educational background and most experience. Likewise for my mechanic; it never would have occurred to me to ask his ethnicity. I’m starting to think that’s what’s really ticking off groups like BAMN. It isn’t that I care about your race.

It’s that I don’t.

What happens when we stop caring about things like race? What happens when we stop turning universities into social experiments pretending to aim for diversity? For starters, Jesse Jackson would need to get a real job. A whole slew of groups like BAMN would find themselves without a gripe, without a fight, and without a need to exist. (The same could be said for NOW, but that’s a whole other column).

Don’t get me wrong. We should recognize and call out racism when we do see it. We should never tolerate the kind of backward thinking that engulfed this nation once not so long ago. But it’s ridiculous and, quite frankly, offensive to pretend we just took a giant leap back to that time.

The NAACP does not share my sentiments. Hilary Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Sr. VP of Policy & Advocacy released the following statement,

The NAACP is outraged with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s ban on the use of equal opportunity programs such as affirmative action as race conscious solutions must be available for racially discriminatory problems. As we approach the 60th anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education, we are reminded that there remain challenges to securing educational opportunities for all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity. The Supreme Court has impeded our country’s efforts to address the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education and puts the access of future generations to high quality and well-rounded education in serious jeopardy.

“Regardless of race or ethnicity….”

If the goal is to secure “education opportunities for all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity” then why fight for something that does the very opposite?


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Pauline is a proud wife and mother of three. When she isn't being the world's greatest Girl Friday, she is volunteers her time as a school librarian and athletic director. Pauline enjoys football, politics, good beer, and arguing with anyone. She's a devout pro-life Catholic. Pauline believes in the 1st Amendment and uses it on a daily basis, most notably to ambush unsuspecting family members in political debate! You can find her work here at Clash and at Follow her on twitter at @MiStateFan.