In an op-ed for NewsOne, Benjamin L. Crump, president of the National Bar Association and prominent civil rights attorney, condemns Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia‘s remarks that some African-Americans are hurt by being admitted to top universities and might be better served at “slower-track” ones. The comments, which generated a firestorm of controversy, came last week during a case challenging affirmative action policies in college admissions, Fisher v. University of Texas.
Justice Scalia’s Remarks that Blacks Are Academically Inferior is a Fallacy and Must be Condemned
Benjamin L. Crump, President of the National Bar Association
The United States Supreme Court, when considering the constitutional rights of people of color, has struggled with the truth that “all men are created equal”. One most-noted example of this struggle is in the Court’s failure to strike down, as unconstitutional, segregated accommodations in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson. With its roots tracing back to slavery, the doctrine of “separate but equal” is a fallacy that rests upon the myth of black racial inferiority. The Supreme Court’s 1896 decision of “separate but equal”, provided legal justification of racial inferiority that permeated all aspects of society, corrupted opportunities and extinguished dreams for black Americans for decades. Under the weight of Plessy, without the full benefit of the contributions of all its citizens, America’s progress as a nation was shackled. Eventually, the Supreme Court recognized the truth that all men are created equal and freed America of the burden of hypocrisy when it issued the 1954 landmark opinion of Brown v. Board of Education. Brown ushered in a legal environment and atmosphere of opportunity for all.
Now, in 2015, the legacy of Brown is under threat by a Supreme Court Justice, whose comments seemingly resurrect the mentality and legal reasoning of the 1896 majority Court. During oral arguments in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, wherein the United States Supreme Court has been called upon once again to consider the issue of affirmative action in higher education, Justice Antonin Scalia revealed his personal animus. Specifically, Justice Scalia stated that “…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, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school…a slower-track school where they do well…most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them. I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. 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.”
Justice Scalia’s anecdotal racist remarks suggest an inherent inability of Blacks to excel academically at rigorous institutions of higher education. Justice Scalia’s remarks seek to lend credence to widely-discredited, antiquated theories of racial inferiority that haunted and impeded the progress of our country for generations. Scalia’s regressive remarks fly in the face of advancements our nation has achieved since Brown v. Board of Education laid the foundation for minority access to expansive educational opportunities.
The National Bar Association condemns the racist and careless remarks of Justice Scalia. The NBA further encourages the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the University of Texas and uphold its prior ruling in Grutter v. Bolinger that “student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify the use of race in university admissions.” In the spirit of Brown’s legacy, our nation must continue to dismantle any vestiges of de facto and de jure segregation and cultivate an atmosphere in higher education that continues to grant access to opportunity for all.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty