If Supreme Court ends affirmative action in higher education, here’s what the left could try next
With a 5-to-4 vote in favor of ending affirmative action in law enforcement and the military, the Supreme Court’s June 23 decision on affirmative action in higher education opened a fresh chapter of race in higher education. I’m surprised by how little attention this has drawn. But the left may be about to change that, and it may also signal a dramatic shift in the balance of power in the Supreme Court.
The left has long sought an end to race-based affirmative action at the educational level, even going so far as to advocate abolishing it entirely. In their 2006 book, “No Longer Separate,” Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree and political scientist Stephen Skowronski, both of whom are white, wrote that the nation’s “longstanding policy of racial preferences in college admissions” was an outmoded “tradition” that should be replaced by “flexible” strategies that “involve the goal of diversity as it relates to the type of student and program.” They argued that “the end of racial preferences on campus is the beginning of a new era.”
After that, many colleges and universities have changed their admissions policies to favor students of “diverse backgrounds.” And universities have become the sites of extensive legal challenges to these policies. But if the left’s big-picture position on race in higher education is, “it’s time to end affirmative action at the educational level,” then the left’s other goals on the higher-education front, such as student financial aid and access to higher education, would come next. And that would mean that race would become a key battleground for the entire higher-education system.
The Supreme Court has a long history of changing how the court rules on the political question of the day, from the case that decided who could marry in the state of Massachusetts to the case that decided whether a religious institution could refuse to give its services to gays and lesbians. But the court’s latest decision overturning