Tags: clarence thomas | affirmative | action | slavery

Clarence Thomas Likens Affirmative Action to Slavery in Opinion

Image: Clarence Thomas Likens Affirmative Action to Slavery in Opinion

By Clyde Hughes   |   Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013 12:55 PM

While the Supreme Court ruled 7-1 to send Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case back to the lower court, it is Justice's Clarence Thomas' comments in a concurring opinion that has created buzz, comparing affirmative action to slavery and segregationists.

Thomas joined the majority in telling the lower federal court that it needed to hold a "strict scrutiny" standard for race-based actions such as affirmative action. In his separate opinion, Thomas said affirmative action policies used by the university "echoes the hollow justifications advanced by segregationists," according to the Washington Post.

"The University’s arguments today are no more persuasive than they were 60 years ago," Thomas said in his opinion, wrote the Post. "There is no principled distinction between the university’s assertion that diversity yields educational benefits and the segregationists’ assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits."

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Thomas argued that the university's support of using race as a factor in admission turned past desegregation arguments on its head by promoting "discriminatory admission" standards to achieve diversity.

"The segregationists likewise defended segregation on the ground that it provided more leadership opportunities for blacks," Thomas said in his opinion, pointed out by the Washington Post. "Indeed, no court today would accept the suggestion that segregation is permissible because historically black colleges produced Booker T. Washington, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other prominent leaders. Likewise, the university’s racial discrimination cannot be justified on the ground that it will produce better leaders."

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, took exception to Thomas's views on the University of Texas's effort.

"I don't expect Clarence Thomas to ever support affirmative action even though he was the beneficiary of affirmative action," Morial told the Washington Post. "But this case is not over. The good news is that the case did not overrule the compelling necessity of diversity in college admissions. And so I hope we're going to see this case again in the Supreme Court in two or three years."

Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin was brought to the court by Abigail Fisher, a white woman who applied to the university as a high school senior in 2008, according to CBS News. She said she filed suit against the school after she was rejected, arguing the university's consideration of race didn't meet standards previously set by the Supreme Court, CBS News reported.

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