Tag Archives: SCOTUS

New #SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action passes the buck and says let voters decide

The best possible spin on the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action in Michigan is that it doesn’t end affirmative action.

The decision did not say affirmative action was unconstitutional.

It merely narrowly decided that Prop.2, the Michigan initiative that voters passed to end race-based affirmative action in that state could be applied and that the equal protection clause was not violated.

It even sounds good. Let the voters decide, right?

OK, but why do we leave it to the voters to decide on that issue and that issue alone, and not on every single item that the University officials oversee?

Why take that power away from the professional educators?

As I went through the 6-2 opinion, I wasn’t that surprised that someone liberal like Breyer would vote with Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas.

Breyer stated he was for some forms of affirmative action, but didn’t see why the voters shouldn’t be allowed to weigh in.

But then there was Sotomayor’s lengthy dissent, which took the hardline, that this ruling indeed was setting up the situation where down the line we might  see the tyranny of the majority, and see the violation of minority rights under the equal protection clause.

That’s what was at stake here.

The majority of justices seemed happy enough to see the voters figure out where they stand on affirmative action.

After reading Sotomayor’s minority dissent, I’m not sure if that’s such a great thing.

We know how fair elections are now, with money driving everything.

That means we’ll probably see  a lot more SCA-5 style battles–until the court makes yet another ruling on the constitutionality of race based methods in university admissions.

UPDATE: 4/23/2014

It’s not surprising that the courts want to get out of the race business. Just like the legislatures have gotten out of legislating by relinquishing their role to the initiative process for the tough issues.

So if the elections are so important, why do electoral rights seem to be under attack? From the Voting Rights Act provisions, to campaign finance, has there been a more activist Supreme Court to reverse  the rights of minorities?

And now elections are the preferred way to settle racial fights? Sounds like SCOTUS just gave itself cover for its horrendous decisions, putting it all on the electorate.




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DOMA done, challenge to Prop. 8 denied, let the June weddings begin again in California

I could sense something good was going to happen as early as this spring, but you never know.


And today, it happened.

The Supreme Court by it’s 5-4 ruling has declared Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

This really is a states rights issue. How could those legally married in states that allow gay marriages be denied federal benefits given to straight wedded couples? That’s discrimination, and shouldn’t be allowed. The court concurred.

So if you’re in one of the states where same-sex marriage is legal, this is an especially great day.

The DOMA refutation was expected. It wasn’t clear what the court would do with Prop. 8, the same-sex marriage ban voted in by the state.  When it was challenged and California officials wouldn’t defend the ban, the proposition’s leadership went to court to defend its constitutionality. But the high court in the way it acted, chose to sidestep ruling directly on same-sex marriage. It simply ruled that the Prop.8 folks didn’t have standing, or the right to argue the matter. So the case is sent back to the 9th circuit with orders to dismiss the case, and based on reports, same-sex marriages can resume again in California.

The Pride Parade in San Francisco on Sunday is going to be extraordinarily celebratory.

After the disappointing decisions on affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act this week, the Supreme Court gives us something to cheer about.

No warm champagne toasts on these decisions.

A back-handed slap at the Voting Rights Act that renders it useless

Shelby v. Holder was another good/bad decision by the Supreme Court, an indirect shot at the Voting Rights Act’s key Section 5 provision that allows for states with bad histories (when it comes to voting rights) to submit any changes it makes to the federal government for approval.

This provision has helped expand the voter rolls for the good.

Instead of invalidating this one section as many had feared, the majority by a 5-4 vote  (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito) went after Section 4, which uses a formula to define which state and local governments must comply with section 5.

In a sneaky way, the court allowed Section 5 to survive (maybe in order to avoid be seen as racist). But it said Section 4 was unconstitutional. Thus the court struck down Section 4 with a forehand slap, and on the “innocent” backhand return swing just happened to knock down Section 5.

Now that was sneaky Solomonic style.

The Voting Rights Act now goes back to Congress to decide what happens next with Section 4. And you know how well Congress does with divisive racially charged issues. 

 So what do you think the justices were really thinking about the voting rights act’s viability?

If you read my reaction to the court’s hearing of the case, you know how Scalia viewed it.


Perhaps this was the way, they could get ALL the conservatives on this one, and not look so racist. Knock down Section 4, and well, you take care of Section 5. 

But it’s actually worse. The decision doesn’t just end Section 5 as was the real issue in Shelby. Now it appears the entire Voting Rights Act, one of the most significant parts of civil rights legislation, becomes unworkable.

In terms of black and white, that’s fine. But what about the new America that goes to the polls, or because of this SCOTUS action does not?

Where’s the protection for Asian and Latino immigrants and first time minority voters? Those who need language help?

Section 4 might help us if a new inclusive formula is derived. But until it does there’s no section 5. And that means there’s no help, or federal oversight, at all.


Supreme Court Affirmative Action ruling: Fisher sent back to the 5th Circuit

By a 7-1 ruling, The Supreme Court of the United States has sent the Fisher case that challenged affirmative action back to the lower court.

How do you get the rabid anti-AA types to rule with the rabid pro-AA types? You rule on a procedural matter on the law, and then throw the case out. In this case, the strict scrutiny requirement in the current law wasn’t followed to the court’s satisfaction. Instead, it saw the lower courts as being too deferential to the University of Texas and not challenging its use of race.

There were other better reasons to throw it out, but this one will do.

This is a victory of sorts. Affirmative action is not dead, and Fisher? Well, she can decide to take the matter up again. But there’s another case next year, and she might want to cut her losses.

More to come.