- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
The president tried changing the subject this week from Obamacare to income inequality. It's no surprise. Despite White House claims that Healthcare.gov is now working as intended, reports of major failures -- from inaccurate enrollment data being sent to insurers to dangerously inadequate security -- continue. And the president's critics include those on the left, as well as the right, which is why President Obama has returned to campaign mode.
Obama is a smart man, but what he doesn't know about economics could fill a library. He has never worked outside of the public or not-for-profit sectors. From the "stimulus package" to government-subsidized alternative energy to Obamacare, his solution to every problem is more government intervention. So when he laments growing income inequality in the United States, he proposes more government action to cure it.
Of course, one way to close the gap between rich and poor is to make the rich poorer -- or at least try to take some of the affluent population's wealth and redistribute it to the less well off. Raising taxes and increasing government spending on the poor was the president's first-term solution. But lo and behold, even after income taxes went up on the wealthiest Americans and more government spending was directed toward social programs, the poor are still poor, and there are more of them now than when Obama took office in 2009. And the gap between rich and poor is greater now, too.
Well, if the president can't tax and spend his way out of growing income inequality, maybe he can force employers to pay workers more. This week, Obama told an audience of true believers from the left-leaning Center for American Progress that he supports efforts to raise the minimum wage to a so-called living wage, applauding moves in Washington, D.C., to raise the minimum to $11.50 an hour by 2016.
"We all know the arguments that have been used against a higher minimum wage," the president said. "Some say it actually hurts low-wage workers -- businesses will be less likely to hire them. But there's no solid evidence that a higher minimum wage costs jobs," he assured his listeners.
Even The Washington Post had to give the president two Pinocchios for that fib. As the Post put it, he may have been making a judgment call, but "he appears to be dismissing the research and findings of a significant part of the economic academy."
Indeed, the debate is not so much about whether raising the minimum wage reduces jobs, but by how much. If the increases are small and essentially below the market in a geographic area, so too may be the effects. But raising wages by $3.25 an hour in a place like D.C. (which already has a minimum wage $1 higher than the federal minimum) will have a big effect. Employers looking to expand could set up shop across the Potomac in Virginia and pay workers $7.25 an hour. Jobs are likely to migrate or simply dry up.
If raising the minimum wage is the right solution to closing the income gap, why not raise it to $22 an hour, which was the mean hourly wage in 2012? Then, like Lake Wobegon, "where all the children are above average," no worker would be paid less than the national average.
Income inequality is growing because of complex changes in our society. Well-educated Americans continue to do well. But even education is not the automatic panacea we once believed. Quality as well as quantity of school matters, as does the subject area people choose to study.
Family structure also matters. Yet the president barely touched on the problem in his economic address, offering only that "some of the social patterns that contribute to declining mobility that were once attributed to the urban poor -- that's a particular problem for the inner city: single-parent households or drug abuse -- it turns out now we're seeing that pop up everywhere." What he should have said is that when 40 percent of American children are born to single mothers, the consequences for society are truly alarming.
Uncle Sam can't replace fathers, not even by providing health care and food stamps and other economic benefits. If Obama wants to understand why it is that there is a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots in America, he should look to what's happened to the American family.
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
Earlier this month, the Obama administration filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit urging it to rule in favor of the University of Texas’s use of racial and ethnic preferences in admissions. This is the Fisher v. University of Texas case that the Supreme Court decided last summer and sent back to the Fifth Circuit, telling it that it had been too deferential — not strict enough — in the scrutiny it had given the school’s use of preferences. It’s the administration’s third brief on behalf of the school’s practice of discrimination, following earlier filings in the Supreme Court and, before that, in the Fifth Circuit, when the case was first on its way up.
The administration’s brief is predictably bad. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, it tries to smuggle plenty of deference into the University’s decision to discriminate in order to achieve greater and greater “diversity” (that is, more blacks and Latinos, and fewer whites and Asians). It supports the school in its desire to manipulate its ethnic numbers, not just campuswide, but on a classroom-by-classroom basis. It also supports the school in wanting to achieve higher numbers for Latinos because, well, there are more Latinos in Texas than there used to be (what Justice Powell in Bakke called “discrimination for its own sake”). And it endorses dubious social-science evidence to support these race-based outcomes, like “student surveys to determine . . . the degree to which minority students feel isolated.”
In addition, the brief assumes that racial diversity is the only way to achieve the purported "educational benefits" of student body diversity. But diversity of background, experiences, and viewpoints among students can be achieved without using skin color and national origin as a proxy for background, experience, and viewpoint — that is, without stereotyping.
Finally, there is nothing, not one word, in the brief urging the court that, in addition to these dubious benefits, perhaps some consideration should be given to the costs of racial discrimination by the University of Texas: It is personally unfair, passes over better-qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it mismatches African Americans and Latinos with the school, setting them up for failure; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school and encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it papers over the real social problems underlying why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets this state university involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership — an untenable legal regime as America becomes an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic society and as individual Americans are themselves more and more likely to be multiracial and multiethnic (starting with our president).
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Just in time for the Fisher remand, there’s yet more evidence supporting a ban on racial preferences in university admissions. I’m not sure whether the authors of this new study intended that support or not, but it does indeed bolster two of the main points made by critics of racial preferences: First, that they have a significant impact on who gets admitted; and, second, that universities will not stop using them unless they are required to do so in no uncertain terms by a law or a court ruling. Thus, the amicus brief we filed with the Supreme Court recently in Fisher v. University of Texas cited earlier studies by the Center for Equal Opportunity to show that the amount of weight given to race had not been diminished by the Grutter and Gratz decisions in 2003 — that, in fact, there was evidence of more discrimination now than ever at many schools, and that the amount of discrimination was dramatic.
* * *
The Center for Equal Opportunity also liked the recent statement by Justice Samuel Alito, questioning the “highly unusual practice” followed by federal district judge Harold Baer, Jr. (of the Southern District of New York), in assessing the adequacy of counsel in class actions. Judge Baer appears to be at pains to ensure, in his own words, that the lawyers for class-action plaintiffs “fairly reflect the class composition in terms of relevant race and gender metrics.” That is, the melanin content of the lawyers has to reflect the melanin content of the plaintiffs. I had noted Judge Baer’s dubious track record in this area a few years ago, and soon thereafter the Center for Equal Opportunity filed a complaint against him, the substance of which read as follows (citations omitted):
It is generally unconstitutional for government actors to engage in discrimination or even use classifications based on race, ethnicity, or sex. Indeed, such classifications and discrimination are “presumptively invalid.” In addition, law firms are employers covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act [prohibiting employment discrimination on, inter alia, the basis of race, ethnicity, or sex], so Judge Baer’s order is also inconsistent with that statute. Canon 2 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges provides, “A judge should not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin; a fortiori, then, it would seem inappropriate for the judge himself or herself to engage in such discrimination. Finally, for a judge to instruct law firms in the assignment of counsel in this manner raises Sixth Amendment (right to counsel) issues as well.
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- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
Both Democratic and Republican strategists are dissecting Tuesday's election results for clues to what might happen in next year's congressional elections. State races in off years are not always good predictors of how a party will do nationally during congressional or presidential elections, but there are some important lessons to be learned.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's reelection win was predictable. He is a popular reformer who reached out to minorities and women running in a state that has had its fill of Democratic corruption and tax hikes. He's a conservative -- a pro-life Catholic who personally opposes gay marriage -- but he never tried to make social issues a focus of his campaign. When Christie welcomed President Obama to tour damage along the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy just before last year's presidential election, many conservatives felt betrayed. But his constituents thought he was putting them before partisan politics. The lesson: Style matters.
- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
The day John F. Kennedy was assassinated is still fresh in the memories of those of us who lived through it. We all remember where we were when we first heard the news that he'd been shot and how we waited for word that he would survive. We remember the sound of news anchor Walter Cronkite's voice breaking as he delivered the news that the president was dead. But for millions of Catholics, it had a special meaning.
It was lunchtime, and I was in the girls' bathroom putting on lipstick -- a new privilege for a 16-year-old in Catholic school -- when one of my classmates rushed in to say the president had been shot. Everyone froze. One girl screamed. And then Sister Jean Patrice's voice came over the intercom asking all students to report to their homerooms immediately.
The halls filled with students pouring out of classrooms and the cafeteria, but even for Catholic school, the crowds were especially orderly. No one shouted, pushed or shoved. We whispered among ourselves as word spread. The president had been in Texas, I learned from one of the girls who worked in the school office. She had answered the phone when an anxious parent called, and she had been the one to tell our principal, who immediately turned on the small portable radio behind her desk.
When we were all settled in our homerooms, Sister Jean Patrice's voice came over the intercom again. She explained that the president was shot as his motorcade made its way through the streets of Dallas and was taken to the hospital, where he was in surgery. And then, without comment, she began the rosary, which we recited together, our hands folded on our desks. We were praying for the president's life and for his immortal soul.
He was our president, not just as Americans, but because we shared his faith. I imagined Jackie Kennedy, a rosary in her hands, intoning the same prayers we recited -- and millions of other Catholics around the world flocking to churches, lighting candles, praying to the Blessed Virgin to intercede with her Son to spare the president's life.
It is difficult today to imagine that being Catholic in the United States in 1963 still meant you were an outsider. Catholics were exotic. We worshipped differently -- in a dead language, Latin -- and many of us attended separate schools taught by women in strange outfits. We were thought to take our orders from Rome -- a charge that plagued Kennedy in his presidential campaign, despite his reassurances to the contrary. "I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president, who also happens to be a Catholic," he said, promising that he did "not speak for my Church on public matters -- and the Church does not speak for me."
Had the president been shot because he was Catholic, I wondered silently as I prayed aloud. The idea seems preposterous in retrospect, but not then. The irony is that John F. Kennedy's death may have played as important a role as his election in reducing anti-Catholic sentiment in America.
On Nov. 25th, as the caisson on which the flag-draped casket bearing the president's body stopped outside St. Matthew's Cathedral, millions of Americans who never would have considered stepping into a Catholic church were invited inside for the first time. The three networks broadcast the entire Requiem Mass, which was celebrated by Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston. Traffic stopped in every major city for five minutes. Church bells tolled, and virtually all Americans gathered around television sets throughout the country.
Who would not be moved by the singing of Franz Schubert's Ave Maria or Joseph Leybach's Pie Jesu? What had seemed foreign became intimately personal. All Americans, no matter what their religion -- or lack of one -- shared in the deeply moving ritual of the requiem. At that moment, we were all Catholics.
Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. once characterized anti-Catholicism as "the deepest bias in the history of the American people." John F. Kennedy's life and death helped destroy that bias and may be one of his most enduring legacies.
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
We recently prepared this one-page summary of the Center for Equal Opportunity’s activities over the past year, and thought that we ought to share it with you.
2012-2013 CEO Activities Report
In addition to our speaking (on campuses, with other conservative groups, and in a wide variety of media) and writing (in National Review Online and other online magazines, newspapers, and publications), here are just a few highlights of CEO’s work this past year. In this public policy area, CEO gets unmatched bang for the buck.
Fisher v. University of Texas – This case challenging racial preferences in student admissions relied heavily on a legal theory we developed; we filed an amicus brief with the court of appeals and were the first to flag for media the opposing Obama administration brief there, advised and participated in a moot court for Fisher’s counsel, filed Supreme Court amicus briefs (at the cert stage and on the merits – highlighting CEO’s admissions studies), helped coordinate other amicus briefs, and did extensive speaking, writing, and “truth squad” work; now we are working to ensure that the case is interpreted and applied in as favorable a way as possible, by writing and speaking about the case and meeting with litigators and advocacy groups, critiquing the Obama administration’s “guidance,” and drafting a series of FOIA requests to ensure that universities are meeting the criteria set out in Justice Kennedy's opinion.
From the appellate level on, we have also been active in Schuette v. BAMN, filing a series of amicus briefs, helping coordinate other amici, and advising party counsel. And we have urged conservative litigation groups to be aggressive in challenging faculty hiring preferences, too.
Shelby County v. Holder – The Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; this should end much of the racial gerrymandering that was a product of Section 5. CEO played an important role, filing amicus briefs at both the petition stage and on the merits, in addition to CEO’s Linda Chavez and Roger Clegg testifying before Congress against re-enacting Section 5 in the first place.
Township of Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action – We filed an amicus brief successfully urging the Supreme Court to take this case, filed a brief on the merits, and advised party counsel. [Note: In the last week, there have been news stories that this case may settle.] The case involves the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement, which we have opposed in a variety of contexts, including school discipline, employment, lending, and voting (see Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this year; we also recently filed an appellate amicus brief in an employment case).
Recent studies on racial preferences in university admissions – Our study documenting racial preferences in medical school, law school, and undergraduate admissions at the University of Oklahoma was released at a local press conference just prior to the 2012 vote on a ballot initiative banning such discrimination, accompanied by op-eds and other media and an appearance at a local law school. The initiative passed overwhelmingly soon thereafter.
Earlier CEO studies were important for other initiatives and were cited in our Fisher briefs.
Federal Register – We review this every day and file formal comments several times a week on proposed federal rules and regulations. We have succeeded in removing racially preferential language in a wide variety of programs.
We sometimes file similar comments at the state level, most recently regarding a Maryland department of education proposal to ban school discipline that has a “disparate impact” on the basis of race.
Congress – Consistent with our nonprofit status, we continue to play a role in publicizing objectionable legislation (for example, post-Shelby County voting bills) – and, relatedly and more and more frequently, executive branch efforts to “legislate” without Congress.
For example, we recently helped publicize a letter from the conservative members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to President Obama, regarding his efforts to declare by executive order that Native Hawaiians are an Indian tribe; the letter pointed out the unconstitutionality of this measure; and the reason the administration was considering this was because of Congress’s failure to pass legislation in this area, which for years CEO has testified and written against.
Contracting – We have sent memoranda to a wide variety of cities and counties, warning them not to use racial preferences; we are also advising various groups and attorneys regarding litigation in this area; and have urged Congress to commission a GAO study on the economic costs of such preferences (and are exploring possible Tea Party interest in this issue because of these costs in a budget-sensitive era).
Current events – The headlines this summer — from Trayvon Martin to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech — made it clear that there is no shortage of organizations eager to play the race card. But there are precious few organizations devoted to pushing back. And there is only one organization that does so before the Supreme Court, in the halls of Congress, with federal, state, and local officials, before students on university campuses, and in the media with well-researched studies and thoughtful opinion pieces: the Center for Equal Opportunity.
- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
The rate of teen pregnancy in the United States has fallen dramatically over the last two decades -- 52 percent -- though in the developed world, it still remains the highest. In 2008, the last year for which in-depth data are available, nearly 750,000 young women under 20 became pregnant, including some 236,000 teenage girls ages 15-17. The overwhelming majority of them were unmarried.
The good news is that the numbers of teen pregnancies have declined so significantly for two reasons: First, fewer teens are having sex and second, more teens who are sexually active are using birth control.
More than half of all high school students have not had sex, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been monitoring sexual behavior in teens since 1990. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy was founded in 1996, and I joined the board soon after. Our goal was to reduce teen pregnancies by one-third. There aren't many public policy organizations out there that can claim to have exceeded their goal so handsomely. But this campaign didn't rest on its laurels. Instead, it broadened its attention to focus on unplanned pregnancies overall.
About half of all births in the U.S. fit this description. And while an unplanned pregnancy may prove an inconvenience to married couples, it is rarely a tragedy as it too often is for unmarried women. Unfortunately, while teen pregnancies are declining, those among unmarried 20-somethings have gone up dramatically.
The problem is complex. Sexual mores have clearly changed. Sex before marriage has become the norm, with little pushback even from churches. More than three quarters of young adults ages 18-24 have had sex in the last year. At the same time, young adults are delaying marriage to new lengths.
The median age of marriage for women in 1990 was 24, and for men, 26; today it is roughly 26 and 28, respectively. Yet many of these young adults are not using reliable birth control -- or are doing so inconsistently -- which is why unplanned pregnancies have risen among this population. In fact, birth control use has actually declined among unmarried women ages 20-29.
The consequences are enormous, not just for the individuals but for society as well. Out-of-wedlock births now account for four out of every 10 births in the U.S., and the numbers are much worse among blacks and Hispanics. Children born to unwed mothers, according to every reputable study on the issue, perform worse in school, are more likely to drop out, commit crimes and have children out of wedlock. And they are far more likely to be dependent on government assistance than children who are raised in two-parent families. The poverty rate for children raised in single-mother households is 63 percent.
For those who are interested in reducing out-of-wedlock births -- and abortions -- urging sexually active young adults to use reliable birth control in a consistent manner would seem to be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, however, the issue is more controversial than it should be. Many people are simply afraid to speak out.
According to surveys conducted by the National Campaign, nine in 10 adults, including 95 percent of Democrats and 91 percent of Republicans, agree that for those who are not trying to get pregnant, using birth control is taking personal responsibility. Still, most politicians, especially Republicans, don't want to talk about it.
The National Campaign decided to try and break the silence this week by urging people to use social media to show their support for birth control by promoting the first national "Thanks, Birth Control" Day. Ads in New York City's Times Square, thousands of Twitter and Facebook mentions, as well as blog posts gave the issue some visibility, but not nearly enough.
Until it becomes respectable to talk about this issue and to urge changes in behavior, young women will continue to become pregnant before they want to -- or should. It's not a difficult problem to solve. But the first step is to bring the issue out into the open. Thank you, National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
The White House welcome of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this week couldn't come at a more awkward time for President Obama, whose fecklessness in foreign affairs will be his most enduring legacy. He has managed to insult our most important allies again and again -- and not just in the most recent cellphone-listening scandal involving German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others. At the same time, Obama has shown weakness to our enemies. But the Maliki visit is in a category all its own.
Iraq is wracked by sectarian violence that is killing more than a thousand Iraqis a month. The level of overall bloodshed in Iraq has given cover to the Obama administration to ignore a deadly attack in which the Maliki government was, at the very least, complicit.
On September 1, death squads invaded a compound that housed Iranian refugees and summarily executed 52 individuals. The 46 men and six women -- most were shot in the head, some while handcuffed -- had been given repeated promises of protection by the U.S. government.
In 2003, the U.S. gave written personal guarantees to every member of the group, the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK), in return for their relinquishing all arms. But when U.S. troops left in 2009 and turned over responsibility for protecting its residents to the Iraqis, Camp Ashraf and its successor Camp Hurriya, where most of the residents were later forced to move, came under repeated attacks. Since 2009, five separate attacks on the two camps have killed 112 residents and injured hundreds more.
But the September 1 attack was the most brazen. According to an independent investigation into the incident by German human rights organization Rights for Migrants, a group of about 120 uniformed men carrying AK-47s came into the camp, which is surrounded by more than a thousand Iraqi military troops and police. From there, the assassins went door to door rounding up residents and destroying millions of dollars in property. They also took seven people, including six women, hostage; they are still being held, likely in Iraq.
The U.S. has refused to hold the Maliki government accountable for this blatant assault on human rights, which could not have occurred without official Iraqi complicity. Instead of demanding the release of the hostages and a full independent investigation of the attack, state department officials repeatedly have said there was "no credible information to date that the Iraqi government was in any way involved." But a report by human rights lawyer Jared Genser found otherwise. After interviewing survivors and reviewing video footage of the attack, Genser and his co-authors write, "The evidence and the applicable law indicate that the government of Iraq is responsible."
The Obama administration's silence on the issue is consistent with its embarrassing overall record on human rights. The president never has made the protection of human rights a priority, but his invitation to Maliki in the face of this shameful incident is especially egregious. Dozens of members of Congress agree. Forty-five House members, Democrats and Republicans, have written the president asking that no further shipment of arms be sent to the Maliki government until it works to obtain the release of the hostages and takes "clear and verifiable steps to protect the remaining residents of Camp Hurriya." In addition, six senators, including the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have written Obama to demand greater protection for the residents from the Maliki government.
At a time when there is little bipartisan agreement on anything, these concerns voiced by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers ought to elicit some response from the White House. The president has hosted other foreign leaders with blood on their hands -- but never before when the victims held personal guarantees for their safety from the U.S. government. Nothing much embarrasses President Obama. But this surely should.
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
A New York Times headline Thursday declared: “Texas’ Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at the Polls.” A careful reading of the article will leave many readers scratching their heads about that title.
The article begins by noting that three prominent Texans — state judge Sandra Watts, state senator Wendy Davis, and state attorney general Greg Abbott — all had photo IDs that did not quite match their names on official voter rolls, and so all had to sign affidavits before they could vote. But . . . they all could and did vote.
Jim Wright — another Texan, whom the Times helpfully identifies as a former U.S. Speaker of the House (though neglecting to mention that he was forced by a scandal to resign) — had an expired driver’s license, and so he had to produce a birth certificate. But . . . he also voted.
So, when all is said and done, where’s the “dent”?
It’s worth noting that these four voter-ID “victims” are hardly the poor, minority voters that the Left asserts are targeted by these laws. To the contrary, all four are white and quite prominent, one a Republican. They not only got to vote, they were alerted to discrepancies in their voter registrations that they can now get corrected.
This is the new Jim Crow?
The article asserts that, for this new law, “the rollout was sometimes rocky” . . . but then concludes that “in many parts of the state, the law’s first day went better than critics had expected.” What’s more, the article never says in what parts of the state there were problems.
It does, however, note, “Officials also said there was little traffic at the offices set up by the state to provide free voter-ID documents for those without another approved form of identification.” So, in other words, the state had conscientiously prepared for the contingency of people needing voter-ID documents, and had set up offices to provide them for free. That’s a good thing, right? And what’s more, it turns out that there was really no problem after all. Contrary to the hysterical claims of those opposing voter-ID requirements, there apparently are not large numbers of Texas voters who lack identification.
This is the new Jim Crow?
The article proceeds to speculate that problems might arise in a better-publicized election with higher voter turnout. Why? Because those elections might attract the “more casual voter.”
Well, that’s one way to put it. The other way to put it is that there is more likely to be fraud. But in any event, it is a good thing that this week’s low-turnout, “trial run” election ran so smoothly, right?
The Times article acknowledges that the Texas election provided no evidence that women were affected more than men — the latest fear raised by voter-ID critics. And, looking again at the four horror stories that began the article, we see two men and two women as the “victims.” That does not sound very disproportionate.
Still, the article dutifully quotes someone from the League of Women Voters who’s still worried that the law might affect “voters who do not have the proper documentation at all, and might stay away from polls altogether as a result.” So this means that the League of Women Voters thinks that people should be allowed to vote when they “do not have the proper documentation at all.” Wow, really?
But the big surprise comes near the end of the article, where the author gets around to quoting some Republicans, just to be fair. Those partisans provide some unexpected information: “For an off-year election, which included several mayor’s races and statewide constitutional proposals, voting was robust.” It’s no surprise that turnout was actually up, compared with similar elections. After all, turnout has also gone up in other states that have implemented voter-ID laws. The surprise is that the election wasn’t really “low turnout” at all.
Winding the story up, the article examines what other states are doing. The Times, of course, repeats the bizarre assertions that (a) voter fraud is “extremely rare” (ignoring, just for starters, this book) and (b) the laws “target groups” like the poor and minorities (a charge that is belied by the rest of the article). Neither is true, but in any event, the takeaway is that lots of states have passed anti-fraud measures over the past few years — there are now “more than 30” for voter ID alone. Are all these states part of a grand, racist conspiracy? Note also that this must mean that the evil Supreme Court and its recent Shelby County v. Holder decision — which was limited in impact to just a handful of states and occurred after most of these anti-fraud measures had already been passed — is not to blame after all.
Texas’s secretary of state, who might know something about all this, is quoted belatedly as follows: “This was our first statewide election with a photo ID requirement in place, and it was smooth, secure and successful.” Somehow, that pithy summary was not quite up to snuff for the Times’s headline writer.
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A slightly different version of the above appeared as column by Hans von Spakovsky and me in National Review Online over the weekend. Hans and I also recently held a Hill briefing for staffers on why there need to be no amendments to the Voting Rights Act, despite the grumbling from some about the Shelby County v. Holder decision by the Supreme Court this summer.
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
On Friday a number of Obama administration agencies with financial-sector regulatory responsibilities jointly published in the Federal Register a proposed “Policy Statement Establishing Joint Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices of Entities Regulated by the Agencies.” The statement comes as a result of Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank legislation, which requires these agencies each to “establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion” that, in turn, is to develop diversity and inclusion standards for workplaces and contracting.
The proposed statement is even worse than the bill itself, since it aggressively applies not only to the agencies themselves but also to all those regulated by it, and repeatedly insists on the use of “metrics” and “percentage[s]“ (i.e., numerical quotas) to ensure compliance. And while the statute at least cautions that diversity efforts are to be undertaken “in a manner consistent with the applicable law” (like the Constitution and, presumably, federal civil-rights statutes with texts that are colorblind in their protection against discrimination), there is no such nod in the proposed statement, nor is there any mention of stopping or preventing discrimination — the only possible justification for consideration of race, ethnicity, and sex in hiring, promotion, and contracting.
This provision of the statute was championed most prominently by Representative Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) and has been criticized by the Wall Street Journal, four members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and myself, among others (I also wrote a short summary of Section 342 here, and Christopher Byrnes wrote a much more comprehensive analysis of the statute, here). Comments on the proposed statement are due by Christmas Eve.
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With little fanfare, the federal government has posted its annual compilation of birth data, including out-of-wedlock births. Here’s the bad news (essentially unchanged from last year): Preliminary data indicate that 40.7 percent of all 2012 births were out-of-wedlock, which is appalling, and there are vast differences among racial and ethnic groups. Among non-Hispanic blacks, the figure is highest, at 72.2 percent; for American Indians/Alaska Natives, it’s 66.9 percent; 53.5 percent for Hispanics; 29.4 percent for non-Hispanic whites; and a mere 17.1 percent for Asians/Pacific Islanders.
As I noted last year, it is of course no surprise that the groups with the highest illegitimacy rates are the groups that are struggling economically, educationally, with crime, and so forth. Here’s a modest proposal: Why don’t the NAACP and similar organizations take all the money they use to challenge and complain about the standards that their groups (in the aggregate) don’t meet when it comes to university admissions, selective high-school admissions, school discipline, mortgage loans, police and firefighter tests, felon-disenfranchisement laws, employment policies that look at criminal records, etc., etc., and use that money to figure out ways to bring down the illegitimacy rates that drive all these other disparities?
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Harvard’s Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. — of “Beer Summit” fame – said last week on Morning Joe that the time has come to rethink affirmative action, replacing racial preferences with nonracial consideration of income instead. This is very similar, by the way, to what President Obama himself said when he was first running for president. Must have slipped his mind afterwards, like when his administration recently defended such racial preferences before the Supreme Court. Still, it’s encouraging that even the bien-pensants seem to be getting a little tired of this nonsense.
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New York City mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio has announced his opposition to relying on tests to determine who is admitted to New York City’s elite high schools; he is unhappy that the current system does not “reflect the city’s diversity.”
Now, I have no objection in principle to considering other indicia of talent besides test scores, but this should not be because of a desire to achieve more racial and ethnic “diversity,” and race and ethnicity should themselves of course not be factors considered.
And I’m not sure that, as a practical matter, it makes sense to change the current system. No selection system is perfect, and one can argue that in theory there would be good things about taking into account more factors than just a student’s score on one test. But there are also many advantages with the current system that will be lost if it is changed: Its simplicity, objectivity, and transparency — great virtues indeed, and just imagine the never-ending fights among groups and parents and students once it is abandoned and a new system has to be fashioned and implemented. The perfect can be the enemy of the good.