Thomas: Race Only a Concern in Preventing 'Anarchy'

Plus, reaction to affirmative action ruling

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 24, 2013 1:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court didn't outlaw affirmative action with today's 7-1 ruling—but Clarence Thomas thinks it should have. "There is no principled distinction between the University's assertion that diversity yields educational benefits, and segregationists' assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits," Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion. He went on, according to NPR, to argue that the government should only consider race when it was necessary "to provide a bulwark against anarchy, or to prevent violence."

The court didn't go that far, and a whole lot of the commentary around the court's decision involves the word "punted." Here's what people are saying:

  • "The naïve conceit sustaining the court's inaction is the hope that, sooner or later, the consequences of decades of racial discrimination will be all but undetectable," writes Brian Dickerson at the Detroit Free Press. "But that day still seems a long way off," and the central question remains. "One of these days, justices are going to have to give us a straight answer."
  • "Yes, it's a cop-out," agrees Sally Kohn at Salon, but she's OK with it. "If there's one thing to take away," it's that "the court still believes that promoting racial diversity in higher education is a 'compelling interest.'"
  • But Elie Mystal at Above the Law sees the ruling very differently. "This is, I think, the end of affirmative action as a tool for 'racial equality,'" though not for "racial diversity," he writes. There's clearly a majority of justices "that want, almost desperately, to end racial preference in college admissions," and they're "just no longer buying the old reasons for affirmative action."

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addresses the audience during a program at the Duquesne University School of Law, April 9, 2013, in Pittsburgh.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addresses the audience during a program at the Duquesne University School of Law, April 9, 2013, in Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Tribune Review, Sidney Davis)
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