The Pressure against Racial Preferences Builds

There’s an excellent discussion here of “Originalism and the Colorblind Constitution,” by Professor Michael Rappaport. The bottom line (quoting the abstract): “In addition to arguing that the evidence for the constitutionality of affirmative action under the 14th Amendment’s original meaning is weak, the Article also contends that there is relatively substantial originalist evidence in favor of the colorblind Constitution.” I came to a similar conclusion here.

And in its cover story this week, TheEconomist calls for an end to affirmative action.  Here’s the last paragraph in the editorial:

Universities that want to improve their selection procedures by identifying talented people (of any colour or creed) from disadvantaged backgrounds should be encouraged. But selection on the basis of race is neither a fair nor an efficient way of doing so. Affirmative action replaced old injustices with new ones: it divides society rather than unites it. Governments should tackle disadvantage directly, without reference to race. If a school is bad, fix it. If there are barriers to opportunity, remove them. And if Barack Obama’s daughters apply to a university, judge them on their academic prowess, not the colour of their skin.

*          *          *

Meanwhile (and believe it or not), the New York Times — in a front-page, above-the-fold, lengthy piece — concludes that the “compensation effort” against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for alleged anti-black bias “became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain $130 million in fees.”  It adds:  “The total cost could top $4.4 billion.”

The Times also notes that the claims have grown so that they now also include “Hispanic, female and Native American farmers.”  And it documents the support that President Obama has given the payment of these claims and their expansion.

There’s no shortage of racial insanity in the Obama administration, of course.  As discussed here by the Washington Legal Foundation, the Obama administration has taken the already-wacky concept of “environmental justice” to even-wackier extremes. The basic idea in this area is that whether pollution is illegal or not can depend on whether its possible victims reflect a politically correct racial balance. That is, if a company locates a new industrial plant in a racially mixed neighborhood, that may be okay, but it might not be if the plant is located in a predominantly minority neighborhood.

As I said, this is insane.  And now the Obama administration has made it “significantly easier for environmental groups to establish” a violation under this dubious approach to the law. What’s more, it has done so without giving businesses and the general public the appropriate notice-and-comment opportunity. And, what’s still more, the whole approach is inconsistent with the underlying statute involved, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. All of this is yet more evidence that this administration has never met a “disparate impact” claim it didn’t like.

One other Obama administration item:  Don’t miss a separate email that we’re sending out this week on the “Ten Reasons Not To Confirm Thomas Perez As Next Labor Secretary.”  As you may recall, Mr. Perez is currently head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, and he has been a disaster.  But in spite — or perhaps because — of this, President Obama has decided to promote him, nominating Mr. Perez to be the new Secretary of Labor.

*          *          *

Finally, here are a few observations about “profiling” as the issue has come up in the context of the Boston bombing:   As Center for Equal Opportunity supporters know, I’m no fan of racial and ethnic profiling (politically correct or otherwise). But it’s not clear that looking at people with a particular geo-religious background, when we are at war against a violent organization with a particular geo-religious agenda, is profiling at all: It’s more like looking for a man in a red windbreaker when the victim of a mugging says his assailant was wearing a red windbreaker.

Also, looking at people who travel to certain parts of the world (known to train terrorists), or who belong to groups with a particular agenda and ideology (even if there is a religious angle to that agenda and ideology), is not racial/ethnic/religion profiling either.

And, finally, even when there is racial/ethnic/religion profiling, it’s justified if the stakes are high enough. That’s not to say it should be done casually or sloppily or high-handedly (all of which can be counterproductive), but it’s also something that law-abiding folks — even those who belong to a profiled group — ought to understand, accept, and indeed welcome when innocent lives (including their own) are at risk.