Whenever race becomes an issue, passions tend to rise — even among the justices serving in the nation’s highest court.
In a 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Michigan voters had a right to discontinue the state’s affirmative action policy, which had given minorities a leg up on admission to public universities and colleges, according to the Washington Examiner.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a self-described product of affirmative action, lit the fireworks with a blistering dissenting opinion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined her. Justice Antonin Scalia countered with an equally scathing concurring opinion directed at Sotomayor, who implied that Michigan’s decision to ban affirmative action was motivated by racism. She even likened the ban to a return to Jim Crow laws.
“Race matters,” Sotomayor wrote. “Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities being denied access to the political process.”
Although Michigan voters decided to ban affirmative action in a 2006 ballot initiative, they also voted to elect America’s first black president — twice.
“As Justice Harlan observed over a century ago, ‘[o]ur Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,'” Scalia wrote. “The people of Michigan wish the same for their governing charter. It would be shameful for us to stand in their way.”
Then he wrote a passage meant specifically for Sotomayor.
“And doubly shameful to equate ‘the majority’ behind [the constitutional amendment] with ‘the majority’ responsible for Jim Crow,” he said in a footnote, citing the first two pages of Sotomayor’s dissent.
Justice Elena Kagan recused herself, apparently because she had worked on the case while serving in the Justice Department.
Watch the report of the decision via ABC News, then check out “MSNBC host tells Kansas parents to shut up over Michelle Obama’s graduation speech.”
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