Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Why Is Equal Treatment Before the Law Essential in America?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Department of Justice (DOJ) finding that “Yale University illegally discriminates against Asian and white Americans through its admissions process” as reported by Mike Gonzalez at The Heritage Foundation.

The Justice Department announced Thursday following the probe by its Civil Rights Division that Yale’s undergraduate admissions process is “in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”

The DOJ announcement did not mention that discrimination based on race in admissions, hiring, housing, etc., also violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. It eventually will be up to the Supreme Court to reverse some of its prior misguided rulings that race can be used as a factor in these actions.

            The article by Gonzalez also quotes Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband: “Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division.” Dreiband added, “It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin.”

            Gonzalez explained why universities began giving racial preferences. In the Bakke decision in 1978, “the Supreme Court has held that colleges receiving federal funds may consider applicants’ race in certain limited circumstances as one of a number of factors.” However, the DOJ pointed out that Yale was using race in a way that was “anything but limited.”

            In the Bakke decision, the Supreme Court warned universities to not use racial quotas as a remedy for past discrimination. However, Justice Lewis Powell in writing the controlling opinion in the 4-4-1 decision, indicated that race could be considered in combination with other factors. His reasoning was that "achieving a diverse student body is sufficiently compelling to justify consideration of race in admissions decisions under some circumstances.”

The Justice Department said Thursday, for example, that at Yale, “the great majority of applicants, Asian Americans and whites, have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials. Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race.”

            Gonzalez explained that decisions in the workplace, both private and public sector, were the “result of the effort to end segregation and other forms of blatant discrimination during the civil rights era.” He wrote that President John Kennedy signed an executive order in 1961 instructing federal contractors to take “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are treated equally without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” This means that all hiring and promoting decisions should be based on ability and what the person could bring to the organization. This seems to be a reasonable way for employers to make their employment decisions. However, not everyone thinks this way.

            President Lyndon Johnson had a different policy. To him, “Affirmative action” meant “the opposite: making hiring, contracting and housing decisions with regard to race, sex, and national origin.” This policy is in direct opposition to the constitutional principle that all people are created equal.

            I agree with Gonzalez who wrote, “It is time to start enforcing our laws in a colorblind fashion.” In 1890, abolitionist Frederick Douglas stated that the government should be “a broad shield” that protects all Americans and its business is “to see that every American citizen is alike and equally protected in his civil and personal rights.”

            It seems to me that Americans have been bending over backwards to right the wrong of slavery. We cannot go back 400 years to change history. We cannot even go back 60 years to the time that the civil rights legislation was passed. We must start where we are and move forward. We discriminate against other races, while attempting to right the wrongs of the past. The business of our government is to make sure that all Americans are treated equally before the law without regard to race, religion, sex, or any other difference.

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