The Corner

Law & the Courts

A Vehement Agreement with Chief Justice Roberts

At the oral argument last week in Fisher v. University of Texas, Chief Justice Roberts asked the school’s lawyer — who was defending the use of racial preferences in order to achieve the educational benefits (for white and Asian American students) that supposedly result from a diverse student body (that also includes black and Latino students) – this line of questions:  “[W]hat unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? . . . [W]hat are the benefits of diversity in that situation?”

That is, Chief Justice Roberts, a skeptic when it comes to weighing race in university admissions, was implying that a prospective student’s skin color, and the background and perspectives that a student might be presumed to have because of that skin color, should not matter because it is irrelevant – that the only thing that should matter are nonracial criteria that tell us whether the student is eager and able to learn about physics.

So today the New York Times publishes an op-ed by a black physicist who is really upset with Chief Justice Roberts. And the reason she is really upset is that she thinks that it is wrong to ask students about race, wrong to ask them what unique perspective their race might give them, wrong to ask them about anything except whether they are eager and able to learn about physics, and wrong to view black students as having the function of enriching the learning experience of white students.

This is almost funny, this failure to see that Chief Justice Roberts and the black physicist are really saying the same things.  Except that the reason for this blindness is that the Times and other liberals, and of course the op-ed’s author, really equate the opposition of racial preferences to opposition to the admission of black students. 

Oh, and by the way, the op-ed’s author is also the proud graduate of Norfolk State University — a historically black school to which she was, therefore, not admitted because of a racial preference, and where she was therefore more likely to succeed in her goal of graduating with a degree in a STEM field. Just ask Justice Scalia.

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