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Justice Antonin Scalia Blasted For Referring to ‘The Blacks’ During Affirmative Action Case

scaliaSupreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is drawing heat for his use of the term “the Blacks” during yesterday’s court arguments on affirmative action—language that Rev. Al Sharpton blasted as “tone-deaf” last night during his MSNBC show.

“Is this the kind of tone-deaf language we should be hearing in the nation’s highest court in the year 2013?” Sharpton asked on Politics Nation.

The Scalia comment came during arguments before the court to determine whether the ban on affirmative action that Michigan voters approved in 2006 is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The Michigan case is not a clear-cut consideration of the merits of affirmative action; rather it is a somewhat murky legal skirmish between defenders of affirmative action and the Michigan attorney general, who must defend the ban passed by voters seven years ago. But each case that goes before the ultra-conservative Roberts court sends the policy of affirmative action closer to its deathbed.

During the arguments, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wanted the plaintiffs to address whether some minority students actually suffered a disadvantage by being admitted into academic settings where they could not thrive. He pointed out research supporting this contention provided to the court in a brief by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr., who argue in their “mismatch theory” that Black students accepted to schools to which they are not qualified usually get much lower grades, rank toward the bottom of the class, and far more often drop out.

“Do we have to assume in your favor that these definitely are beneficial to particular minority groups?” Roberts asked, referring to race-conscious admissions plans.

His question was answered by Shanta Driver, a lawyer for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.

“Certainly the minority voters of Michigan believe them to be, because 90 percent of Black voters in Michigan voted against” the ballot measure there, she said.

“If you look at the law schools, the medical schools, the professional schools now in the state of Michigan, there’s been a precipitous drop in underrepresented minority enrollment in those schools,” she continued. “We are going back to the resegregation of those schools because of the elimination of affirmative action.”

In addition, she said, the Michigan measure is unconstitutional because it fails “to protect minority rights against a white majority.”

But that final statement got a rise out of Scalia.

“My goodness,” he said, “I thought we’ve held that the 14th Amendment protects all races. I mean, that was the argument in the early years, that it protected the Blacks. But I thought we rejected that.”

Scalia is the same man who described the protection of voting rights for African-Americans in the Voting Rights Act as a “racial entitlement” during February arguments before the court.

If words mean anything—and frankly every court argument and deliberation is all about words—one would have to believe that a Supreme Court justice using the expression “the Blacks” to refer to African- Americans does not bode well for African-Americans seeking unbiased treatment from the court.

 

What people are saying

8 thoughts on “Justice Antonin Scalia Blasted For Referring to ‘The Blacks’ During Affirmative Action Case

  1. Tee Dub says:

    How about just being called Americans! Not African Americans, since 99.99% have never even set foot on African soil. But until the ignorance is gone , what shall we call this group? Im white, so i got my name, craka ass craka!

  2. I have no problem being called Black. Africans don't like the term African American when it applies to the people they sold into slavery and lived and died so they could come here and be successful.

  3. Thanks for lightening the mood.

  4. Tom Fleig says:

    "blacks" are the ones most responsible for segregation. They constantly segregate themselves by calling themselves African Americans instead of Americans. BET, NAACP, united Negro college fund…etc. These all segregate blacks. Affirmative Action is blatantly racist towards blacks. If I said that blacks aren't as smart as whites I would be called a racist, but that is exactly what affirmative action does. You don't lower the standards for a group of people unless you think they are less intelligent then another group. All blacks should be outraged that they are looked down at and need special help, like a special needs person. Until everyone is treated exactly the same, there will never be true equality.

  5. Ibe Blacq says:

    I am an African American… I have lived all over Africa, so yes we are Americans of course, but don't we owe our African forefathers anything.. they were taken and brought here as slaves… Blacks i met always have a difficult time with there background and culture.. I WILL BE AFRICAN TIL I DIE… WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES… AND USE COMMON SENSE

  6. Ibe Blacq says:

    VERY STUPID AND IGNORANT COMMENTS LIKE THIS.. I AM SURE YOU KNOW NOTHING OF AFRICAN HISTORY AND COLONIZATION.. JUST MAKING STUPID FEEL GOOD REMARKS.. DUDE PICK A BOOK AND KNOW WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT…

  7. Ibe Blacq says:

    VERY BLACK AND VERY PROUD.. VERY AFRICAN AND I SAY IT OUT LOUD.. ALL THESE MINDLESS PEOPLE, WHO HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT AFRICA MAKING STUPID STATEMENTS.

  8. Mariano Loo says:

    Affirmative action legislation is unconstitutional is an insult to the further advanced and it is also a disgrace to the principle that all are equal before the law and nobody is above it, this vitiates the vote as illegal subsidies and destroy the American dream and democracy, must be repealed with Executive Order.
    Also affirmative action unconstitutional stolen tax money to public schools and community centers, as existing monuments to impunity for the Presidents who are stealing taxes through his (14) unconstitutional libraries presidents

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