Judge Thomas rejects lawyer’s logic to use race in admissions for diversity: “Don’t put much stock”
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas On Monday he dismissed an argument by a lawyer defending race-based affirmative action policies in college admissions and said he doesn’t give much weight to the idea that diversity automatically creates better outcomes.
During arguments involving admissions policies at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Thomas asked Solicitor General Ryan Park to describe the educational benefit of including race as a factor in admissions. at the university. Park responded that in studies involving stock trading results, “racially diverse groups of people … perform at a higher level.”
“The mechanism is that it reduces groupthink and that people have a longer and more sustained disagreement, and that leads to a more efficient outcome,” said Park.
Thomas replied, “I don’t think I have much stock in it because I’ve also heard similar arguments in favor of segregation.”
“I’ve heard the word diversity many times, and I have no idea what it means. It seems to mean everything to everyone,” Thomas also said during his line of questioning.
Normally the more reserved justice, Thomas took an active part Monday oral arguments in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina.
In a later discussion with David Hinojosa, the director of the Educational Opportunity Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Thomas seemed to reject the idea that affirmative action policies should continue just because a school affirms that there is a compelling interest in doing so. so that.
“I can’t think of another area of another case where the court has deferred to the alleged discriminator for something as important as a compelling interest,” Thomas said.
Hinojosa disagreed and said that “the limited consideration of running in a holistic fashion” it is not “discrimination, per se”. Hinojosa also said much of the case involved “close scrutiny” about whether there is a different way to achieve student diversity without considering race.
Thomas was not convinced and said the court would not be so receptive to a contrary assertion by a college.
“If … this case involved a school district in Virginia in 1960 that is allegedly discriminatory, would this court back down from its assertion that the races do better if they are segregated?” Thomas asked.
Hinojosa said: “This is not the case. This case is about a limited classification involving a compelling interest.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about deference to the court. In this case, the court puts Virginia to the test. In this case, it’s not. I ask you why the difference?” Thomas replied.
Hinojosa said the University of North Carolina faced a “high burden” to justify including race as an admissions factor and argued that it met it.
The Supreme Court hear two cases in which Students for Fair Admission is suing a large university for its policy of including race as a factor in admissions decisions. The first case on Monday was against UNC. The court heard a similar case against Harvard immediately following the UNC case.
SFFA says it is a “coalition of prospective applicants and applicants to institutions of higher education who have been denied admission to institutions of higher education, their parents, and other individuals who support the purpose and mission of the “organization to eliminate racial discrimination in higher education admissions. SFFA has members. throughout the country.”
The group said in its initial filing against UNC that its membership includes at least one white student who was denied admission to the university. Harvard’s case will be discussed later on Monday, focusing more on how Harvard’s policies allegedly harm Asian-American applicants.
Those who support the use of affirmative action in university admissions cite several past Supreme Court precedents that say it is permissible.
Supporters of affirmative action also say it is important to ensure diversity in universities, which serve as pipelines to key leadership positions in society.
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