Scalia: Affirmative Action May Hurt Black Students
He cites theory about pushing them into schools that are too advanced
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2015 1:40 PM CST
A file photo of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court heard a high-profile case Wednesday about colleges' use of affirmative action, and Antonin Scalia in particular was drawing attention over his comments about black students. Scalia raised an argument made by others that affirmative action might actually hurt African-Americans in some cases, reports the Dallas Morning News. If, for example, black students got into a top school by virtue of their race instead of their grades, they might suffer academically—and thus might be better off going to a lesser school. A snippet, via Mother Jones:

  • "There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don't come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them."

The general idea of Scalia's argument is known as the "mismatch theory," reports the Wall Street Journal, and it has been put forth by advocates including UCLA professor Richard Sander, who wrote this amicus brief for the court case, notes Talking Points Memo. Scalia himself sounded sympathetic to the reasoning. "Maybe it ought to have fewer" black students, he said of UT. "I don't think it stands to reason that it's a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible." His line of questioning wasn't sitting well with all: One of the spectators in court was Al Sharpton, who said afterward, "I did not know if I was sitting in the Supreme Court or at a Donald Trump rally.”