The United States has come a long way, particularly from the 1960’s onward, in terms of racial equality. Nevertheless, problems still persist. Recently, the United States Supreme Court made a decision that upheld a Michigan ban on affirmative action in the state’s college admissions process. Analyzing the Michigan Affirmative Action decision is important for several reasons.
First of all, this decision could set a precedent for future rulings. There have been several pieces of legislation in America’s history that might have an impact on this topic, most notably the famous Civil Rights Act of 1964. In part, the bill indicates that everyone must have equal enjoyment of public goods, facilities, privileges, et cetera without discrimination based on race, national origin, or religion.
Upon analysis, it actually seems like the Michigan affirmative action decision is in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After all, the point is for people to have equal access to public facilities regardless of race, so it seems like race should not even be considered in the college admissions process one way or the other.
The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is obviously another important document in terms of civil rights. The first clause of that amendment mentions that no state can make a law that violates the privileges of any United States citizens. This is also the clause which details the due necessity of equal protection and due process of the law.
Once again, there is nothing in this document that would necessitate or justify racial discrimination in the college admissions process. The main thrust of Section One of the 14th Amendment seems to be that laws must apply equally to everyone. Also, rights and property cannot be arbitrarily denied without going through the proper legal processes.
It is interesting to look at some of the opinions of the Justices. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was one of the judges who ruled against the decision. She mentioned that there is a limit on what the majority can do via election. This is true as far as it goes. For example, the majority cannot simply pass laws that restrict the basic rights of others, even if those others are in the minority. This does not have much to do with a law against affirmative action however, as no one’s rights are being violated.
Meanwhile, Justice Anthony Kennedy seemed to indicate that a ban on racial considerations in state university admissions is an issue for the state’s voters to decide.
There seems to be some concern that laws against affirmative action are somehow bad. However, nobody’s rights are being denied in this case. Quite the contrary, if people want equality it would seem like they would be in favor of a law against any kind racial discrimination in the admission process for higher education. Somehow, it seems that this issue has been turned on its head.
It is important to closely examine issues such as the Michigan affirmative action decision. Sometimes, issues such as this divide people unnecessarily. The American people as a whole would do well to analyse the underlying principles of these topics rather than be swayed by political rhetoric.
Opinion By Zach Kirkman