Moments after the Supreme Court struck down race-based university admissions on Thursday, talking heads at MSNBC tried to dunk on Justice Clarence Thomas and ended up proving the exact point he made in his concurrence. Thomas, the longest-serving member of the current court, joined the rest of the Republican-appointed majority in a 6-3 decision that universities’ use of racial discrimination in admissions to guarantee minority entry is illegal under the 14th Amendment.
“While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and all who suffer discrimination,” Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion, “I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles so clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”
Among the reasons Thomas concurred with the majority’s ruling to strike down race-based admissions was his rejection of the assumption that race, rather than merit, is the primary driver of success.
“These policies may harm even those who succeed academically,” Thomas wrote. “I have long believed that large racial preferences in college admissions ‘stamp [blacks and Hispanics] with a badge of inferiority.'”
“Consequently, ‘[w]hen blacks’ and, now, Hispanics ‘take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question… whether their skin color played a part in their advancement,” he added.
Justice Thomas can write from his own experience. Shortly after the decision was handed down, an exchange on MSNBC proved his case.
“Clarence Thomas, you know, he has criticized affirmative action. That’s how — that’s one of the reasons why he graduated from Yale and we know that’s one of the reasons why he’s on the Supreme Court,” said network legal analyst Catherine Christian.
In other words, it didn’t matter how hard Thomas worked to lift himself up from abject poverty to the nation’s highest court. Affirmative action policies reinforce the bigotry of low expectations, wherein skin color is identified as both a handicap and metric of preferential treatment and success.
Thomas’ colleague Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson was explicitly nominated to the high court by President Joe Biden because of her race and sex. In her dissent Thursday, Jackson criticized the notion that the Constitution is colorblind.
“With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat,” Jackson wrote. “But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”