Staff Editorial: Supreme court struggles with affirmative action

By Duke Staff

Does the color of our skin matter when we apply to colleges? Should it?

These are questions the Supreme Court seeks to answer. The case Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action went in front of the Supreme Court Tuesday. The Court addresses whether a state violates the Equal Protection Clause. This clause is part of the 14th Amendment and mandates that no state shall deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, by amending its constitution to prohibit race- and sex-based discrimination or preferential treatment in public-university admission decisions.

This case is not arguing whether states can give race-based preferences to minority applicants. It’s about whether states can ban schools from using Affirmative Action. Michigan passed a ballot initiative called Proposal 2, which aimed to stop the preferential treatment of minorities in state universities’ admissions processes.

There are two sides to this argument. The first side argues that we have come far enough as a country that we can trust our universities to make admissions decisions fairly and without bias. They argue that universities being forced to admit minorities inhibits their ability to accept the most qualified students. This side says admissions offices could make the decision without even considering race.

The CDAA argues that this is the only law that protects minorities in this process, and the citizens with the opposing viewpoint are trying to take it away.

There are a few problems we at The Duke have with the idea of granting states this power. First we know that even if almost every state did this perfectly, there would still be a small portion that would abuse this power to reject minorities based solely on their skin color. It is not fair to allow even a little bit of racism because universities are having a tough time accepting so many minorities.

The improved atmosphere is better for minorities’ college acceptance. However, with universities having that freedom, there could be an even larger bias against the inner city schools. Often colleges decline students because they attend what admission offices can perceive as worse schools. Not only does this primarily affect minorities, but it also impacts the people whose only chance at college is Affirmative Action.

The Supreme Court would be best suited to rule that Proposal 2 is unconstitutional. Racism is far from dead and an equal opportunity is a pipe dream without Affirmative Action.