Noam Scheiber argues–I’ll paraphrase–that Bush’s conservatism is to the left of Reagan’s on racial issues, and that as a result Roberts’s Reagan-era memos create a political problem for the administration. I think the Reaganite positions were, in general, sounder than the current ones, so I lament the shift Scheiber is talking about. But I think he has accurately identified that shift.
On the other hand, he may be exaggerating the political problem. Bush’s softness on racial preferences and support for relatively open borders reflects, I think, the worldview of corporate America more than it does any public enthusiasm for these policies. I also don’t think that softness on racial preferences is the key to increasing the Republican share of the black vote–but that’s a long argument for another day.