America is founded on dreams and promises.

Our daily average in creating dreams is pretty high. Our daily average in keeping our promises is fairly low.

We started a nation of activists. White, wealthy, articulate, literate, hard-working. Over time, the picture of our citizenry changed…how could it not? America was a siren to all oppressed people. When the Statue of Liberty was set firmly in the New Jersey mud in New York Harbor, its beacon radiated throughout the world and millions of immigrants broke every bone in their bodies trying to get to these shores to take advantage of what we, as a nation, promised them: freedom, hard work, a better life for themselves and their families.

No one today can claim surprise at what happened.

Now, in order to make good on our promises, to keep those dreams alive, a few pages of manuscript were published that in fact guaranteed the freedom to work, the freedom to vote, the freedom to believe what one will. And over time, these directives and promises changed by simple virtue of how the world changed.

Some there are who do not want change in this country.

Some there are who do not recognize change when it occurs in this country.

Some there are who will fight against change flat-out, using whatever goals and persuasions they can muster.

Some there are who insist that the United States of America today is exactly what it was in the late eighteenth century,and isn’t (or wasn’t) that wonderful?

These people are called the Supreme Court of the United States.

Separated by virtue of their incomes and backgrounds, cut off from their neighbors and peers, these nine justices exist for the most part in isolation, unable any longer to even imagine what corruption looks like, what hard times do hard-working people, what vast gaps in education and in wealth can do to those trying desperately to improve their lives, as well as those who, for the most part,have lived theirs and are happy with those outcomes.

As court-watchers are aware, the Supreme Court seems intent on whittling America down to colonial size. Having promised the Senate during their confirmation hearings that they each, six men and three women, believe in the statutes that in the past forged the nation, they have then conveniently forgotten those pledges and become a force for turning back an American clock to the time when wigs were worn and those voting were white land-owners only. Some are more”equal” than others,which is to say some justices are more eager than others to reverse the generations of progress made, while some are more in tune with life as it is lived on American streets today.

In only the past few years, the Court under the direct leadership and influence of John Roberts, Jr., aided and abetted by hugely intelligent but also hugely blind Conservative judges, has managed to mangle campaign finance (Citizens United), unable to understand that the appearance of quid pro quo influence is as damaging as its reality. It followed this up with the McCutcheon decision which allows political donors not just the opportunity to purchase one or two members of Congress, but in fact now an entire Congress, should one be willing to be bought. The Court alas proceeded to vitiate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, then proceeded to be astonished that discrimination at the polls exists.

With last week’s decision in Schuette v Coalition, the Court once more plays innocent,saying that really the case should not have been brought before the Court at all and that how states administer entrance to their universities is no concern of theirs…as long as race plays no part in selecting that student body.

This amounts to a complete refutation of what was called “Affirmative Action,” a policy engendered to allow students of varying means and abilities entry to the great universities and colleges through the land. Because of educational disparities, many students could not otherwise have gained admission to these bastions of privilege. One of those students is Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor.

“Affirmative Action” was created to help minority students whose public education at lower levels did not compare favorably with public and private educations at those levels in certain other parts of the country. It was a way of expanding opportunity to millions of young people of different backgrounds, faiths,and economic levels. And races.

It was a plan devised to counter prevailing winds on American campuses that might well have made it impossible for members of certain groups or tribes or economic strata to attend college at all. Its aim was to provide American colleges with a diversity that reflected the diversity of our population in general.

It was never a great plan. It was, instead, a plan born of desperation, insofar as “minorities” might never otherwise be able to experience one of our nation’s great promises.

That the Court, like Herod, is washing its collective hands of this part of the American dream is just a step and a jog away from wigs and carriages. What this Court seems to want is a nation trapped in the years 1945-1950, before Civil Rights caught fire.

It comes as no surprise that those days are long over. The surprise comes only in realizing how radically retrograde the Court has become in the past few years, and how ill this bodes for the future of American promises made both by the Justices and by the Declaration of Independence.

Briefly, this isn’t your grandfather’s country any more. It’s increasingly like your great-great-great-grandfather’s country.

This is not called progress.


The Schuette case,decided last week by the Supreme Court, is baffling. The Court held in a 6 – 2 vote that Michigan’s constitutional amendment banning consideration of race in connection with its universities’ admission policies is protected by the 14th Amendment of our Constitution. The one ton elephant in the middle of the room – U.S. race history – was totally ignored. The U.S. Constitution enshrines the principle that all citizens are guaranteed equal protection of the laws. State laws that discriminate on the basis of race, or religion or national origin are routinely struck down as unconstitutional. But for the first time in our nation’s history, states are now allowed to ban the consideration of race in connection with students’ admissions to state universities! The effect of this decision is that the admissions officer at the University of Michigan may take into consideration geographic diversity, economic diversity,athletic ability, musical ability and legacy issues but not race when making decisions
regarding admission to the university.

Under the geographic diversity guidelines, a Caucasian from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has a better chance of acceptance to the state’s premiere university than a Black student from the inner city of Detroit, despite same scores and student profile.

What’s also baffling to me,however, is that a majority of the Court brought the Michigan argument: Consideration of race in admission to the state’s universities is discriminatory. Michigan believes that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution protects all citizens equally. Therefore,an amendment to the state’s constitution, the amendment at issue in this case, simply reaffirms the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. When you look under the hood of the shiny argument,though,you see the real problem. Some Caucasian kids,bright and not particularly academically distinguished, are being bumped in the admissions process to the states’ premiere universities. How do we solve the problem? We blame the Black kids who diversity the student body. But we don’t blame the athletes or the musicians or the legacy kids or the Caucasian and Asian kids who are academically distinguished.

The Michigan argument is a variation of the old flawed syllogism: All Communists are red. All fire engines are red. Therefore, all Communists are fire engines. Michigan’s similarly flawed syllogism goes something like this: Some Caucasian students don’t gain admission to the state’s premiere university. Racial preferences are used in determining a limited number of admissions to the state’s premiere university, Therefore, racial preferences deny Caucasians equal protection of the laws and, as such,may not be considered in state university admissions. The flaw in Michigan’s reasoning is the failure to recognize every other preference which works to the disadvantage of borderline state university applicants.The truth is that every admission to a state’s premiere university discriminates against someone. Yes, life is unfair. But in America, we try to balance out the unfair advantages with other opportunities.

The 14th Amendment to our Constitution, arising out of the ashes of the Civil War,guarantees equal protection of the laws. The Amendment targeted racial injustice institutionalized by state laws recognizing and protecting slavery. Racial considerations and racial preferences in state university admissions until recently were upheld by the Supreme Court. Even the most conservative of the Court’s members understood why the 14th Amendment was ratified. Racism which grew out of slavery was the under pinning for unequal treatment under the law and for general unequal access to opportunity in America. When the Supreme Court answered the narrow question of the states’right to ban racial considerations in its university admissions, it stood the 14th Amendment on its head. For the first time in our history the 14th Amendment to our Constitution was used to protect the Caucasian majority, and, more importantly,to discriminate against the Black minority it was meant to protect. Is it any wonder I’m baffled?



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