The current racist xenophobe attracting attention is, of course, Donald Trump. But if you think that the bigotry of Trump is the exception among politicians and Washington elites, it’s time for a reality check. Because one person in our nation’s capital who wields far more power than Trump ever will has put his racism on full display. That person is Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Antonin Scalia.
The court was hearing arguments in a case entitled Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin on December 9. That case, brought by a woman named Abigail Fisher, challenges the method that the University of Texas uses to admit students. Three quarters of students are admitted through a procedure that automatically takes in any Texas residents who are in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class. The other 25 percent of students are admitted based on a variety of factors, including race. Fisher, who was not in the top ten percent of her class and therefore not entitled to automatic admission, is arguing that this procedure is unconstitutional.
Justice Scalia has made it plain over a number of years and various cases that he is no fan of affirmative action. But what he said during oral arguments goes beyond an opposition to affirmative action. Scalia outright implied that black students are not as smart as whites, and affirmative action lands them at schools where they are over their heads academically.
According to Talking Points Memo, Scalia was referring to an amicus brief when he said that some people believe:
it does not benefit African-Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well.
OK, so maybe you can say that Scalia wasn’t expressing his own feelings; he was only putting forward that statement for the sake of argument. But then he said this:
[M]ost of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re — that they’re being pushed ahead in — in classes that are too — too fast for them.
Scalia prattled on after that comment, saying that maybe the University of Texas should have fewer black students than it has, once again going back to his claim that black students make out better in “less-advanced” schools. But Gregory Garre, one of the University’s lawyers, offered this perfect counter:
[F]rankly, I don’t think the solution to the problems with student body diversity can be to set up a system in which not only are minorities going to separate schools, they’re going to inferior schools.
Antonin Scalia should certainly remember that the argument of providing “separate but equal” schools was settled in 1954, in a case called Brown v. Board of Education. Scalia seems to actually be suggesting that the country go back to a time when things were worse than they were before Brown, by saying that minority students should be satisfied not just with separate and equal schools. No, minorities should accept going to separate and inferior schools.
For anyone who may have forgotten, Scalia was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan started his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. It’s a tiny town, but one of great significance for racists, as it was the site of the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney. Connecting any dots yet?
If you needed a good reason to get out and vote in 2016, this should be it. Scalia has been on the court for almost 30 years. He may not decide to leave if a Democrat is elected, but if a Republican wins the White House, we could see someone who is far worse — if that’s possible.
Featured image via Wikipedia