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Clarence Thomas Criticizes Ketanji Brown-Jackson In Concurring Opinion On Affirmative Action Decision

Supreme Court Justice Thomas says Justice Brown-Jackson is viewing black Americans as 'victims'

Fiery conversations were ignited today after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of affirmative action in admissions policies used by colleges and universities.

The Court ruled that college and universities may not consider an applicant’s race as a factor during the admissions process, writing that affirmative action policies in higher education “unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points.”

Though much of that debate was within the realm of social media, one exchange was among the only two African American justices on the Court.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas excoriated freshman Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson who relied on several historical examples of disparities and racial discrimination to, in Thomas’s words, “label all blacks as victims.”

The full Supreme Court decision can be viewed here.

Thomas’s concurring opinion begins on page 49 of the document, while Brown-Jackson’s dissenting opinion begins on page 209 of the document.

Brown-Jackson stated in the first line of her opinion that “gulf-sized race-based gaps exist with respect to health, wealth, and well-being of American citizens,” which she argues have been passed down to the present day. She also included multiple statistics on an array of issues including student debt, racial composition of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, and even health.

Yet, Thomas wrote that “none of those statistics are capable of drawing a direct causal link between race — rather than socioeconomic status or any other factor — and individual outcomes.”

Thomas continued:

[Jackson] locks blacks into a seemingly perpetual inferior caste. Such a view is irrational; it is an insult to individual achievement and cancerous to young minds seeking to push through barriers, rather than consign themselves to permanent victimhood.

If an applicant has less financial means (because of generational inheritance or otherwise), then surely a university may take that into account. If an applicant has medical struggles or a family member with medical concerns, a university may consider that too. What it cannot do is use the applicant’s skin color as a heuristic, assuming that because the applicant checks the box for “black” he therefore conforms to the university’s monolithic and reductionist view of an abstract, average black person.

Accordingly, JUSTICE JACKSON’s race-infused world view falls flat at each step. Individuals are the sum of their unique experiences, challenges, and accomplishments. What matters is not the barriers they face, but how they choose to confront them. And their race is not to blame for everything—good or bad—that happens in their lives. A contrary, myopic world view based on individuals’ skin color to the total exclusion of their personal choices is nothing short of racial determinism.


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