OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

High Court Takes on Affirmative Action; What About Asian People?

Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 22, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court JusticesYou’ve likely heard the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear the case of Fisher v. Texas, a challenge to the race-based affirmative action admissions policy at the University of Texas.  In 2003, Grutter v. Bollinger permitted the continuation of race-based affirmative action in public college admissions.  However, Grutter was decided 5-4, with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor voting joining the liberal justices to uphold race-based affirmative action while Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the conservative justices to strike it down.  Well, what a difference a few years makes: right-of-center swing vote O’Connor has been replaced by solid conservative Justice Samuel Alito, leaving Kennedy the Court’s swing vote, and he’s already on record opposing race-based affirmative action.  On top of that, liberal Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from this case.  That sets the stage for a historic 5-3 ruling in Fisher v. Texas in the 2012-2013 session to strike down race-based affirmative action in public college admissions.

To be honest, I am shocked at the speed and circumstances of the likely end of race-based affirmative action in public college admissions.  I thought it would take another decade to accomplish, and I always figured it would be an Asian-American plaintiff.  Asian-American enrollment has soared at virtually every college in which race-based affirmative action has been banned.  After Proposition 209 banned race-based affirmative action in California, Asian-Americans have become the plurality or majority at seven of the nine campuses of the University of California (Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz are the two).  Study after study after study has found eliminating race-based affirmative action in college admissions increases Asian-American enrollment.

Excerpts from this New York Times article are telling:

…in 2005 Asian-Americans were admitted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at a much lower rate (54 percent) than black applicants (71 percent) and Hispanic applicants (79 percent) — despite median SAT scores that were 140 points higher than Hispanics and 240 points higher than blacks.

In the late 1980s, [UC Berkeley] administrators appeared to be limiting Asian-American admissions, prompting a federal investigation. The result was an apology by the chancellor at the time, and a vow that there would be no cap on Asian enrollment.

University administrators and teachers use anguished words to describe what has happened since.

“I’ve heard from Latinos and blacks that Asians should not be considered a minority at all,” says Elaine Kim, a professor of Asian-American studies at Berkeley. “What happened after they got rid of affirmative action has been a disaster — for blacks and Latinos. And for Asians it’s been a disaster because some people think the campus has become all-Asian.”

While complaints about affirmative action have long focused on whether whites were being discriminated against in favor of blacks and Latinos, the data indicates affirmative action is neutral for whites and discriminates against Asian-Americans in favor of blacks and Latinos.

The fundamental point to all this is that race-based affirmative action is discriminatory, and the Supreme Court will end this ridiculous bastion of the past in the next 16 months.

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