Justice Scalia has finally shared the real reasons for his opposition to affirmative action, and it isn’t pretty. In the oral arguments for an affirmative action case that the Supreme Court is currently considering, Scalia argued that African-Americans are “being pushed into schools that are too advanced for them.”
“It does not benefit African-Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well.”
Apparently, Scalia thinks that top research universities are too fast-tracked for students of color, and going there wouldn’t be a benefit for them. The same justice who opposed gay marriage by telling people to “ask the nearest hippie” went on to claim that “most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas… They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re — that they’re being pushed ahead in — in classes that are too — too fast for them.” Why university classes need to be “slowed down” for African-American students is never explained. Scalia’s disturbing comments come as the Supreme Court considers a case (Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin) in which a white woman is suing the University of Texas-Austin because she thinks their admissions policy, which takes race into account, is unconstitutional.
However, most students at the university are accepted in a race-blind program that admits the top ten percent of students in their graduating class. This is the second time that the case has come before the Supreme Court. Scalia apparently bases his views on a brief written by conservative lawyer Gail Heriot. But figures from the National Science Foundation show that many African-American scientists attended prestigious, “fast-paced” universities, including MIT, Stanford, and Yale. Just ask famed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson (who in fact attended UT-Austin for his Master’s degree) whether he would have preferred a less-advanced school! The attorney for the University of Texas called out Scalia for essentially advocating a return to “separate but equal.”
“And, frankly, I don’t think the solution to the problems with student body diversity can be to set up a system in which not only are minorities going to separate schools, they’re going to inferior schools. I think what experience shows… is that now is not the time and this is not the case to roll back student body diversity in America.”
The Supreme Court expects to issue a decision on the case by the end of their term next summer. Until then, we can only hope that Scalia will find a time machine and get out of the 1950’s.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.