This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on affirmative action in school admissions in Fisher v.
University of Texas. While affirmative action was adopted with the long overdue intention of instituting justice and righting innumerable wrongs, it was poorly designed.
Affirmative action in school admissions leads minorities to do worse in college, discourages minorities from developing valuable skills, and even breeds racism. While affirmative action’s laudable goal is to allow minorities the opportunities that whites take for granted, it is instead a recipe for persistent underachievement.
President Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 introduced affirmative action by mandating race-blind treatment of employees. Under President Johnson, affirmative action evolved from an attempt to end discriminatory hiring practices into a regime mandating exactly that.
Soon after, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare began requiring public schools to adopt quotas in school admissions. Since this initial period, the Supreme Court has amended but maintained the use of race in school admissions in a series of decisions. This began in 1978 with Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in which the court found that using race in school admissions is acceptable, but quotas are not. This decision was reaffirmed in the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger. It is therefore reasonable to expect at most piecemeal change in the Fisher case, a cause for worry among minorities.
Rather than resolving social problems rooted in discrimination, affirmative action creates new difficulties. The best way to permanently reduce inequality is to eradicate establishments that maintain the status quo. And affirmative action is part of the status quo — while affirmative action may seem to mollify racial inequities, its unseen consequences damage minorities in more profound ways.
Let us hope the court finds affirmative action unconstitutional in Fisher v. University of Texas. In doing so, the court’s decision may well be the most effective curb of institutionally-mandated racism since Brown v. Board of Education.
— Stephanie Rugolo, an Arizona native who graduated from Arizona State University, is the editor of the online news site, The Rugolo Report.