Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.

Fri01192018

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Uncivilized Sport

As an American, I am proud of Olympic Gold medalist Claressa Shields' feat in women's boxing at the Olympics -- but as a woman who has suffered traumatic brain injury, I am deeply concerned that her win will encourage other young women to pursue this dangerous, potentially life-altering sport.

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Schools, Contracts, and Colorblindness

The Justice Department announced last week that it has put an end to racially discriminatory selection practices in an Alabama school district, where two high schools had black slots and nonblack slots for their homecoming queens and Valentine’s Day courts.

The Department’s press release complained that the “schools considered race” and had “race-based selection criteria.” The release proudly declares that now, thanks to the Obama administration, the school district “will end the use of race-based election and selection criteria in all student activities.” After all, the release concludes, the Department must enforce “Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars public school districts, colleges and universities from discriminating against students on the basis of race [and] color . . .”

The quoted language in the preceding paragraph — culminating with a reference to the department’s duties here, not only with respect to “school districts,” but also for “colleges and universities” — clearly sets the stage for the Obama administration to support colorblind admissions in public universities when it files an amicus brief with the Supreme Court later this month in Fisher v. University of Texas. After all, the administration cannot possibly be thinking of taking flatly inconsistent positions in the two cases.

Can it?

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Speaking of schools:  During the 1960s and ’70s, hundreds of school-desegregation decrees were put in place, and rightly so. But the Supreme Court has warned that these decrees are not to stay in place forever. Normally local school districts, not federal judges, are supposed to run the schools; dissolving a desegregation decree when the school system is no longer segregated will not allow schools to readopt Jim Crow policies (the Fourteenth Amendment does not expire), but it will allow districts more flexibility with regard to charter schools and other student-assignment issues.

One problem that has arisen in particular is the tension between these decades-old decrees (which spell out rigidly which students can go to which schools) and needed reforms that allow students to transfer out of failing schools (as the federal No Child Left Behind statute, for example, does). Well, this news item points out a recent instance of this problem, where a 1960s-era decree has prompted school officials in one Louisiana district to warn students that they can’t transfer out of a failing school if they are the wrong color (in this case, white).

Now is a good time for judges to review any such decrees they have on their dockets, so that school districts can make informed and commonsensical decisions before school starts up again. The Center for Equal Opportunity has periodically written to all judges who have such cases on their dockets, and urged them to see if dismissal is appropriate (and, indeed, we wrote to the court in this particular case in October 2009, and received a response indicating — incorrectly, it would seem — that the case was considered to have been closed already). We set out the reasons why such a review makes sense; you can read a sample letter here. The federal government is typically a party to these cases, by the way, and the Bush administration did a better job of moving these cases along than the Obama administration has.

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The New York Times ran an article last week with the title, “Battling Perceptions About Minority- and Woman-Owned Businesses.”  It features a black female entrepreneur who complains that she is always “battling misperceptions about the capabilities” of minority-owned businesses, sensing that people are afraid that companies “certified” as minority for affirmative-action purposes are not quite up to snuff.

Well, guess what? —this is the inevitable price of any affirmative action program. If people are given preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, or sex, then other people are going to assume that they are less qualified than those who are not given preferential treatment. If we don't like it when people make that assumption, the only solution is to stop giving preferential treatment.

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And speaking of contracts:  The Obama administration announced last week that it will need another month to decide if Arab Americans will be added to the list of groups eligible for services from its Minority Business Development Administration. Alexander Kazam wrote about the issue earlier this summer, as did I.  And the Center for Equal Opportunity has filed a formal comment with the Obama administration, which argues that, in 2012, it makes no sense — and is inconsistent with the Constitution — to compile an ever-longer list of racial and ethnic groups eligible for special government programs.

Big year coming up for racial preferences at the Supreme Court

Not only will the Supreme Court be taking on the issue of racial and ethnic preferences in university admissions this fall when it hears Fisher v. University of Texas, but it may well be hearing important civil-rights cases involving voting and housing, too.

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Race Isn't the Problem for Obama

The president of the AFL-CIO is worried that President Obama is doing poorly among white, working class, male voters -- and he plans on putting 400,000 of his troops in the field in six key states to change the equation.

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A Humanitarian Crisis That Can Be Solved

For a group of 4,000 Iranian refugees currently living in Iraq, a United Nations report this week could prove crucial in determining whether they will live as virtual prisoners in the desert or be able to build new lives in freedom elsewhere. The refugees are members of a controversial Iranian dissident group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalk (MEK), which is currently listed on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. That listing itself is controversial. The United Kingdom, the European Union and a number of other nations have removed the group from their lists of terrorist organizations, and the U.S. may soon be forced to do so as well. A successful suit by the MEK resulted in a recent order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton either to delist the group or produce evidence that the organization remains a current and credible threat to American interests. But until the issue is resolved, the fate of the MEK members living in Iraq remains precarious.

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Let the pandering begin!

Last week President Obama announced in a speech to the Urban League that he was going to sign an executive order launching a White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, to be housed in the Education Department.And, later in the week, he did.

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Do the Right Thing

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh has now issued his final report on the scandal at Penn State University, but the question remains: How could so many decent people fail to act when presented with an eyewitness account of sexual abuse of a child?

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Stoking Class Resentment

Senate Democrats passed a so-called middle class tax cut this week on a mostly partisan vote, but the move was more political theater than tax legislation. For months, the Democrats, with President Obama leading the charge, have hammered home that they want to preserve lower tax rates for those Americans earning less than $250,000 a year and help pay for lost federal revenues by making wealthier individuals pay higher taxes. But, in fact, even if the bill were to become law -- which it won't -- most middle class taxpayers will see their taxes go up come January unless Congress gets serious about real tax reform.

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An Obamacare silver lining

Many conservatives were unhappy with the Supreme Court’s failure to strike down Obamacare, but here’s a silver lining:  The Left and the Mainstream Media had been doomsaying all year about how the Roberts Court was going to be willy-nilly striking down laws and upsetting legal precedent in pursuit of some far-right agenda.  Well, that didn’t happen.  So next term, when the Court hears Fisher v. University of Texas, raising the issue of racial preferences in university admissions, it will be much easier now for the Court to do the right thing and put an end to this nonsense.  (And, no, I don’t think that Chief Justice Roberts’s vote in Obamacare bodes ill for his vote in Fisher.)

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