WASHINGTON — Do black students matter to Justice Antonin Scalia?
During oral arguments on Wednesday in Fisher v. University of Texas, a contentious affirmative action case, the conservative justice seemed to call their abilities into question.
“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well,” Scalia said, “as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school … a slower-track school where they do well.”
Scalia was engaging former U.S. Solicitor General Gregory Garre, who is now representing the University of Texas at Austin as the school defends its ongoing consideration of race as one of many factors in its admissions program.
Pointing to a brief the court received before oral arguments, Scalia noted “most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas.”
Garre tried to interject, but the justice continued. “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that … they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them,” Scalia said.
Again, Garre tried to respond as Scalia added that he was “just not impressed” by arguments that UT Austin suffers from lower minority enrollment. “I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible,” the justice said.
By then, Garre’s time at the podium was almost up, but he closed his rebuttal to the justice by emphasizing the importance of diversity on campus.
At what point do people like Antonin Scalia come to realize that you just can’t say whatever is on your mind? For him, probably never. Scalia is insulated. He is appointed for life and can say and do whatever he wants. There are no consequences.
These Scalia remarks seem to creep up from the past, spoken out loud from another era, when we as a people could address those of other races as second class citizens. I might have expected to read remarks like these when I was a child. I heard things like that all the time. In fact, not only were similar words used about blacks but also about women who wanted admission to some of the finer schools in the area.
The message that was sent to me, as a girl, was to lower my expectations. Society simply didn’t have the same expectations of me because gender. The same message was sent to black kids my age. Why even bother. The doors are closed. The doors are also closed to young people whose parents have immigrated here without proper documentation. It isn’t the kids fault but the same message is sent to them. Don’t bother to try because the doors are also closed to you all. Hispanics need not apply.
The woman issue has been fixed, perhaps with a vengeance. There are more women than men enrolled in colleges and universities nationally. I thought that black students had equal opportunity to attend college. It appears they won’t if Scalia has his way. I guess that leaves the poor Dreamers to have that unfulfilled dream for education and career. I will certainly stand up and fight for them. Will YOU?