OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and colleague Ketanji Brown Jackson, the latter of whom is the high court’s newest member and President Joe Biden’s nominee, have competing views on the subject of race, as demonstrated by their opinions in the high court’s 6-3 ruling on Thursday that struck down affirmative action in college admissions.
In a concurring opinion, Thomas wrote that Jackson, in her dissent, attempts to link “the legacy of slavery and the nature of inherited wealth” to disproportionately negative socioeconomic outcomes for blacks in America.
“This, she claims, locks blacks into a seemingly perpetual inferior caste. Such a view is irrational; it is an insult to individual achievement and cancerous to young minds seeking to push through barriers, rather than consign themselves to permanent victimhood,” he wrote in his opinion.
Thomas went on to not black achievements in the country and dismissed Jackson’s “race-based worldview” that is held by most Democrats.
“Individuals are the sum of their unique experiences, challenges, and accomplishments. What matters is not the barriers they face, but how they choose to confront them,” he wrote.
Though he acknowledged “social and economic ravages” in the past that plagued black Americans, he went on to share his belief that the country will “live up to its principles” of a colorblind society following the ruling.
The use of race when considering college admissions — while appearing patently unconstitutional on its face — had been in practice since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The court’s six conservative-leaning justices ruled that the practice is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
“Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”
The case stems from lawsuits brought against the race-based admission standards used at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
“Today, and despite a lengthy interregnum, the Constitution prevails,” Thomas added, reading from the bench, which is rare.
“I write separately to offer an originalist defense of the colorblind Constitution; to explain further the flaws of the Court’s Grutter jurisprudence; to clarify that all forms of discrimination based on race–including so-called affirmative action–are prohibited under the Constitution; and to emphasize the pernicious effects of all such discrimination,” he added.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor also read from her dissent of the majority decision.
“The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment enshrines a guarantee of racial equality,” Sotomayor began. “The Court long ago concluded that this guarantee can be enforced through race-conscious means in a society that is not, and has never been, colorblind.”
“Today, this Court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress. It holds that race can no longer be used in a limited way in college admissions to achieve such critical benefits. In so holding, the Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter,” she wrote.
Fox News added:
Thursday’s 6-3 ruling was split along traditional lines. Students for Fair Admissions, a student activist group, brought cases against both Harvard and University of North Carolina. The group initially sued Harvard College in 2014 for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance.”
The complaint against Harvard alleged that the school’s practices penalized Asian American students, and that they failed to employ race-neutral practices. The University of North Carolina case raised the issue of whether the university could reject the use of non-race-based practices without showing that they would bring down the school’s academic quality or negatively impact the benefits gained from campus diversity.