Forbes' Rick Ungar: When Do We End Affirmative Action?

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 01:52 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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Reaction to Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling to uphold Michigan's affirmative action ban for admissions at state colleges is proof of how difficult it is to determine when minority groups no longer need additional support, according to one political commentator.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-2 to uphold a voter-approved Michigan law that banned the practice of affirmative action in deciding which students to admit to state universities.

Rick Ungar, a political and policy commentator for, told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that the essence of the affirmative action debate in America is when the country no longer needs to right past wrongs.

Story continues below video.

"I agree it has been putting the thumb on the scales to right past wrongs," Ungar said. "What makes this so difficult is how do you know when the time is up for that? It was Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who said some years ago when she was sitting on the bench that maybe this would no longer be an issue in 25 years, and that's probably about 25 years ago."

Ungar pointed to Michigan and California, two states that have taken some legislative action to move away from affirmative action but have seen results that are "a little disconcerting."

"We are unfortunately seeing some evidence that minority student enrollment in some of the public universities are going down," Ungar said. "Do you factor that in? Do you look at why that's the case? These are the discussions we have to have, but we may ultimately have to come to the conclusion that this is how it's going to be if the court is going to continue in the direction that they're clearly going in."

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion wrote "race matters," and affirmative action for "historically marginalized groups," is still needed.

Ungar said he found Sotomayor's stance to be "odd."

"It really wasn't much a statement on affirmative action whether it's constitutional, not constitutional; it was really more a decision on how you can vote, if that's your choice to overcome it," Ungar said.

"So Sotomayor obviously has strong feelings. Look, she personally benefited greatly from affirmative action, so it shouldn't be that hard to understand why she would have so strong a position, but the real question to look at is are we now reaching the end of that time period in American history where there was an effort made to equalize race when it came to things like education."

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