Bench Memos

Americans Against Racial Quotas and Preferences

The White House evidently figured that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor would put Senate Republicans in a political box, as they’d risk being tarred as anti-Hispanic if they opposed her confirmation.  But Sotomayor’s deep-seated quota mentality presents a special opportunity to show how wildly out of step she is with most Americans, including, it would appear, most Hispanic voters.

There are, broadly speaking, two competing ideas of racial equality in this country.  One idea, the colorblind ideal, involves equal opportunity for all in a legal regime that does not permit discrimination on the basis of race.  But Sotomayor has said that it’s “deeply confused” for Americans both to “take[] pride in our ethnic diversity” and to “simultaneously insist that we can and must function and live in a race- and color-blind way.”  So it seems clear that she rejects the colorblind ideal.

The alternative vision—the one that Sotomayor evidently embraces—looks to equal results as the benchmark of equality and uses racial quotas and other racial preferences to achieve those results. 

According to this recent Quinnipiac University poll, the colorblind ideal is overwhelmingly popular among Americans.  Among its findings, American voters believe by a 55-36 margin that affirmative action should be abolished, and disagree 71-19 with Sotomayor’s ruling in the New Haven firefighters case.  In addition, American voters:

“Oppose 70 – 25 percent giving some racial groups preference for government jobs to increase diversity. Black voters support it 49 – 45 percent while Hispanic voters are opposed 58 – 38 percent;  

“Oppose 74 – 21 percent giving some racial groups preference for private sector jobs to increase diversity. Voters in every racial and religious group oppose this;

“Oppose 64 – 29 percent affirmative action for Hispanics in hiring, promotion and college entry. Black voters support it 59 – 30 percent while Hispanics split 47 – 48 percent;

“Oppose 61 – 33 percent affirmative action for blacks in hiring, promotion and college entry. Black voters support this 69 – 26 percent, as do Hispanics 51 – 46 percent.”