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Affirmative Action Forever

Fifty-eight percent of Michigan’s voters said that affirmative action in university admissions ought to be illegal in their state. A federal court has just overturned their will, and for an outrageous, ridiculous reason:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled, 8 to 7, on Thursday that Michigan’s voter-approved 2006 ban on affirmative action was unconstitutional.

The ruling, in Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. University of Michigan, was not based on racial discrimination, but rather on a violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The ban, the court said, unfairly placed a special burden on supporters of race-conscious admissions policies.

People trying to change any other aspect of university admissions policies, the court said, had several avenues open: they could lobby the admissions committee, petition university leaders, try to influence the college’s governing board or take the issue to a statewide initiative. Those supporting affirmative action, on the other hand, had no alternative but to undertake the “long, expensive and arduous process” of amending the state Constitution.

“The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the equal protection clause’s guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change,” said Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., writing for the majority.

Sailer nails it:

This is an extraordinarily unpersuasive argument by the Sixth Circuit majority. Before this ruling, proponents of affirmative action facedexactly the same burdens as the opponents of affirmative action faced in 2006 when they got their initiative approved. Heck, proponents don’t need 58% of the vote like the ban got, they just need 50% +1 vote to amend the state Constitution.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

Wrong, of course. Structural racial discrimination on behalf of groups who vote Democratic is self-evidently justified, as everyone would see if their eyes weren’t clouded by sin. Or something.

Despite the good intentions with which it may have been launched, at this point affirmative action has nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with power, as this Christopher Caldwell quote cited by Sailer recognizes:

“One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong.”

Conservatives have to hope that the Supreme Court outlaws all race-based college admissions schemes when it rules this term on the Fisher case.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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