Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden implied that Dr. Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a black man, was racist for opposing the principles motivating affirmative action legislation.
The exchange occurred during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork in 1987. Sowell attended the hearings to testify on behalf of Judge Bork and was given 10 minutes to make a case for his character. It was during this hearing that Democrats, including then Sen. Biden, slandered Bork and failed to confirm him in a 42–58 vote.
Biden pushed Sowell on his public opposition to affirmative action, implying that Sowell, a black man, is racist for his opinion on the policy.
“I gather from your comments about MIT and Harvard that you don’t think there’s enough blacks out there who are qualified to fill the number of vacancies, allotted for them in those schools, is that right? My point is, you believe there’s not enough black women and men out there that are the same as white women and men go through Harvard and MIT? You’re saying factually there are not enough?” Biden asked.
Sowell previously explained that affirmative action sets up many black Americans for failure due to race-based quotas.
“They are systematically mismatched with universities and the admissions process,” Sowell said. “That is if Harvard feels that it must have X percent of blacks. And the pool is such that they can’t get X percent of blacks at the same level as the rest of the Harvard students, they’re going to take those blacks who would have succeeded in some state university and bring them to Harvard where many of them will fail.”
Biden continued questioning Sowell by asking if Bork is opposed to desegregating schools.
Sowell quickly responded that they both agree in desegregation, but believe that the underlying principles motivating that decision were based on racism. Sowell explained:
The problem is not whether you believe that school segregation is to have ended. I believe it should have ended long before Judge Bork believes it should have ended long before.
What he and what I have objected to are the principles used in that decision because those principles take on a life of their own, and they come back to haunt you in other areas. Obviously, this old phrase ‘the hard cases make bad law’ derive from that fact. You dream up a principle, to reach this result and then the principle has a life of its own.
This is what bothers me people are talking about how judges should be sensitive to this particular group or that particular group. And if that means anything, if it means he’s applying the law differently. That’s precisely how blacks were held down for generations in the South.
Biden then continued his attempts to trap Sowell with his own words.
“So literacy tests, as long as they were equally applied, are all right?” Biden asked.
“Sure,” Sowell said.
“That’s what I thought you thought,” Biden replied.
When Sowell further explained that Bork believed in desegregation but that it wasn’t truly an example of equal protection, Biden interrupted him.
“I’m just trying to figure out what you’re saying,” Biden said.
Sowell also expressed that judicial activism has played a large role in reinforcing systematic racism.
“It is easy to forget that all groups, stand to lose as Americans, when the law is undermined as judicial activism surrounds all laws, with a large and growing number of uncertainty,” Sowell said
“I don’t think that judicial activism has been beneficial to minorities,” he stated.
Biden has a long history of racist comments and legislation.
In August 2019, he told members of the Asian and Latino Coalition in Des Moines, Iowa that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” He also apologized for referring to then Sen. Barack Obama as the “first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
During his time as a senator, Biden opposed busing policies that would allow children from black neighborhoods to attend white schools.
“Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point. We have got to make some move on this,” Biden said in 1977.
Harris reprimanded Biden over the issue at the Democratic debate in June of 2019.
“I also believe — and it’s personal and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing,” Harris said. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats.”
More recently, Biden claimed in an interview with Charlamagne tha God that “you ain’t black” if you vote for Trump.
“Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” he said.