Justice Clarence Thomas admits that society has not always been “colorblind” and that the United States hasn’t always upheld its principles.
In a landmark affirmative action decision, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion in which he argued that despite the people, the Constitution is colorblind and upholds the inherent worth of every person. His paper, released just before July 4th, couldn’t have been timed better.
Thomas contends that the Constitution forbids racial discrimination, including affirmative action, and supports the majority’s decision to invalidate the use of race in college admissions, particularly for Asian-American applicants.
For example, the Asian-American students who sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina contend that Justice Jackson, who wrote a dissent on the ruling, primarily ignores the actual harm that affirmative action practices do to other individuals.
According to Thomas, the Constitution forbids affirmative action because it will have “pernicious effects.”
Thomas gives a history of the racial equality-promoting civil rights laws that followed the Civil War, including the Fourteenth Amendment. He contends that the Equal Protection Clause’s core goal was to ensure that “All citizens of the United States, regardless of skin color, are equal before the law.”
The argument that the Fourteenth Amendment permits the government to employ race in situations when doing so would correct prior state-sanctioned racial discrimination is also criticized by Thomas. Thomas insists that the government must use race in ways that “further a colorblind government, not perpetuate racial consciousness.”
He points out that history has often demonstrated that ostensibly innocuous discrimination can be poisonous and that those who engage in it may make considerable efforts to conceal and support their illegal actions.
Thomas contends that Harvard’s and other colleges’ use of affirmative action policies could result in the repetition of past discrimination against minorities, such as Jews, who were singled out by exclusionary laws a century ago and who are now categorized as “white” and thus at a disadvantage in the admissions process.
The notion of combating societal racism with state-imposed racism, according to Thomas, is self-defeating and leads to a never-ending cycle of victimization.