Supreme Court Considers “Colorblindness” To Define Equality
(RightWing.org) – Race and discrimination have a long and storied history in America. In the wake of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was ratified to the US Constitution in 1868. At the time, it was meant for one purpose, to ensure states didn’t discriminate against black citizens. Today, the Equal Protection Clause has evolved as its original wording was written overtly broadly. Now, it’s understood that all discrimination is covered under the law.
On Tuesday, October 4, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) began hearing the first of four cases involving racial issues. The first black woman to preside on the high court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, stated the Constitution isn’t color-blind and noted the government could consider race to ensure equal treatment. Yet, that view may not agree with historical precedence.
SCOTUS' first Black woman justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, said the U.S. Constitution is not 'race blind' and that governments may consider race to ensure that people are treated equallyhttps://t.co/Ki0kLjif3X pic.twitter.com/I9EbDDXKZj
— Reuters Legal (@ReutersLegal) October 28, 2022
Is Equality Colorblind?
In the three cases the justices will hear in the current term regarding race, Conservatives contend that taking race into account benefits one group at the expense of another and, therefore, violates the Equal Protection Clause. The three cases include:
- Black voters in Alabama
- Race-conscious university and college admission policies
- A federal rule that gives Native Americans priority in adopting Native American children
University of California, Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who clerked for conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, told Reuters the topic of racial diversity is a prominent aspect of how institutions function.
In 1869, the SCOTUS ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” facilities between black and white people didn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause. Yet, Justice John Marshall wrote in his dissent he disagreed based on the premise the Constitution was color-blind.
In 1954, the justices unanimously overturned Plessy in Brown v. Board of Education. They wrote separate schools based on race violated Equal Protection. In 1967, the high court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that bans on interracial marriage violated the provision in the 14th Amendment.
So, up until Justice Jackson, the court largely affirmed in 1954 and 1967 that the Constitution was color-blind.
Liberal Unlikely To Win the Argument
Joining in Jackson’s stated position, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal director, David Cole, told Reuters if the court determines the founding document is color-blind, it would be a “massive rewriting of the Constitution.” He argued a potential conservative majority ruling would harm equality for disadvantaged groups.
Conservatives don’t agree. They say giving preferences to one group over another is unconstitutional regardless of the reason. They say the Left’s position isn’t warranted as society moves beyond racist policies and becomes more diverse.
So, is the Constitution color-blind when it comes to equality?
The Supreme Court is about to decide.
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