The court didn’t rule on the merits of affirmative action, but simply on whether voters can opt to ban its use in public universities. Sotomayor tried to do several things as she fought a rear-guard battle.
She sought, for one, to equate affirmative action with voting rights, which didn’t fly. More interestingly, she also vainly tried to read this policy into the Constitution, the better to save it from future challenges.
The Constitution, she wrote, “guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently, forcing the minority alone to surmount unique obstacles in pursuit of its goals — here, educational diversity that cannot reasonably be accomplished through race-neutral measures.”
In other words, one of the highest Hispanics in the land argues that, without preference policies, minorities can’t hope to reach a proportionate participation in universities.
Can you imagine what reading this opinion would do to a young Puerto Rican or Mexican-American girl full of hopes about her own abilities? As Linda Chavez, the highest woman in President Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet once put it, “Ultimately, entitlements based on their status as ‘victims’ rob Hispanics of real power.”
It’s heartening that by a 6-2 majority the high court didn’t let such nonsense go unchallenged by the voters.