(The following article appears first and foremost on the Legal Insurrection.com website, and is used with permission.)
"It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race," U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts famously said.
The public library system of New York’s capital city has now gotten into the sordid business game.
In 2020, the Albany Public Library created a paid summer internship at two of the library’s branches that was available only to Black graduates of the library school program at the State University of New York at Albany.
While this summer’s library fellowship program is available to students and graduates from any American Library Association-accredited school, eligibility still turns on the color of the applicant’s skin.
The application contains a race-based litmus test — it explicitly limits the fellowship to "two Black recent Library and Information Science graduates."
Simply put, graduates who are white — or any race other than Black, for that matter — will not be considered.
Recently, the Legal Insurrection Foundation’s Equal Protection Project took the first step to shut down this blatantly discriminatory and unconstitutional program.
The program is called the "Touhey Library Equity Fellowship," and is named after its financial benefactor, the Carl E. Touhey Foundation, which has a history of sponsoring race-based projects in the name of "equity."
In a letter to the Albany Public Library (and copied to the New York State Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights), the Equal Protection Project slammed the Albany Public Library’s fellowship program for "appear[ing] to violate a variety of state and federal civil rights laws, as well state and federal constitutional prohibitions on race-based discrimination," and demanded that the library cease and desist using skin color as the program’s litmus test for an applicant’s eligibility:
"It violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for a recipient of federal money, such as the [Albany Public Library], to discriminate on the basis of race . . . . Similarly, racial discrimination in the context of hiring and employment transgresses Title VII . . . .
"Needless to say, the [fellowship program] also defies the analogous statutory civil rights protections of the New York State and Albany City Human Rights Laws.
"Further, government-run programs such as the [fellowship program] that discriminate on the basis of race not only violate state and federal civil rights statutes but also the equal protection guarantees of the New York State and United States Constitutions.
"By promoting, sponsoring and hosting a deliberately racially-restrictive program, the [Albany Public Library] could be held liable for all such violations."
In its letter, the EPP explained that the equity fellowship program would fail strict scrutiny— the two-prong judicial test for evaluating the constitutionality of race-based government programs — because it does not advance a compelling government interest or do so in a narrowly tailored way.
According to the website of the Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library, the racially exclusive hiring criterion was implemented to advance "diversity, equity and inclusion" at the library.
And, the executive director of the Albany Public Library is quoted on the library’s website saying that the purpose of the fellowship is to "attract Black librarians to Albany Public Library" because "[t]he library profession isn’t as racially diverse as it could be . . . . Having professional staff who reflect the community we serve is important and has the potential to inspire our young patrons to explore a career in libraries."
Putting the focus on equality of outcomes for racial groups as a collective, rather than equality of rights for individuals is a classic "equity" argument.
But the U.S. Supreme Court has been clear that achieving racial balance is an "illegitimate" goal, and that race-based discrimination in furtherance of that objective is "patently unconstitutional." "[A]t the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection," said the high court, "lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class."
The Supreme Court, in Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, 476 U.S. 267 (1986) also rejected the library’s "role model" argument, finding that "[c]arried to its logical extreme, the idea that black students are better off with black teachers could lead to the very system [of segregation] the Court rejected in Brown v. Board of Education."
[(See Brown vs. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)]
Indeed, in our letter to the Albany Public Library, we pointed out that the Supreme Court has recognized only two interests compelling enough to justify racial classifications: (1) to remedy the effects of past segregation or discrimination in the specific industry and locality at issue in which the government played a role; and (2) to attain a diverse student body. Neither applies here.
Further, the library can’t demonstrate that its equity fellowship program is narrowly tailored because that requires, under Supreme Court precedent, that race be used in a "nonmechanical way."
Under the Albany Public Library’s program, however, if applicants are not black, they are automatically excluded from consideration. That’s as mechanical as it gets.
The fellowship program is part of the library’s "diversity, equity and inclusion," or DEI, effort. While DEI sounds righteous, it is a smokescreen for a socially corrosive and anti-American agenda that is being aggressively pushed by academics, woke corporations, the media and leftists in government that puts a racial spin on the Marxist concept of class struggle.
Instead of pitting workers against the capitalists, the taxonomy of DEI divides society into whites and non-whites – the former are labeled the oppressors and the latter the oppressed.
Against that backdrop, proponents of DEI like Ibram X. Kendi – the author of an instruction manual for racists that is deceptively titled How to be an Antiracist – have extolled the virtues of anti-white DEI racism.
Indeed, Kendi has declared that "[t]he only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination," and "[t]he only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination."
Although racial discrimination under the guise of DEI is in vogue, it is glaringly unlawful— especially when engaged in by a governmental actor like a public library.
The full letter from the EPP to the Albany Public Library can be read here.
Ameer Benno is an experienced civil rights and constitutional law attorney. He is the founder and principal of Benno & Associates P.C., an appellate and civil rights law firm in New York City. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and Cornell Law School, Ameer is a former Manhattan prosecutor and congressional candidate. He is a contributor and legal analyst for Newsmax Television. Read More — Here.
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