It should be no surprise that the most controversial moment of Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing on affirmative action in college admissions involved Justice Antonin Scalia. The court’s longest-serving and most outspoken justice enraged liberals with comments about a theory that some African Americans are actually hurt by being admitted to elite universities and might be better served at “slower-track” ones.
This is his colloquy with Washington lawyer Gregory G. Garre, who was representing the University of Texas, according to the transcript provided by the Supreme Court.
SCALIA: There are — there are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having slower-track school where they do well. One of — one of the briefs pointed out that — that most of the — most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas.
GARRE: So this Court —
SCALIA: They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re – that they’re being pushed ahead in — in classes that are too — too fast for them.
GARRE: This Court —
SCALIA: I’m just not impressed by the fact that — that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe some — you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less. And — and I — I don’t think it — it — it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible. I just don’t
GARRE: This Court heard and rejected that argument, with respect, Justice Scalia, in the Grutter case [which said universities may consider race in a limited way because they have a compelling interest in creating diverse student bodies], a case that our opponents haven’t asked this Court to overrule. If you look at the academic performance of holistic minority admits versus the top 10 percent admits, over time, they — they fare better.
And, frankly, I don’t think the solution to the problems with student body diversity can be to set up a system in which not only are minorities going to separate schools, they’re going to inferior schools. I think what experience shows, at Texas, California, and Michigan, is that now is not the time and this is not the case to roll back student body diversity in America.
Here’s a full transcript of the hearing: