Tags: Judicial | Tidal | Effect

Judicial Tidal Effect

Tuesday, 24 June 2003 12:00 AM

It illustrates how decisions of the nation’s highest court can have long-range ramifications often of contradictory and even greater consequences than their immediate impact. Sometimes it takes years, decades for the full effects to take place.

Mountains of litigation and exhaustive social discourse may ensue before historic impacts of decisions are finally understood.

Take the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 that outlawed racially segregated public schools. It still hasn’t produced universal improvement of education and post-education opportunities for blacks.

So what has it accomplished? Among other things, it unquestionably helped pave the way for later civil-rights legislation, such as that in 1964 that ended racial discrimination in public accommodations. Few businesses yearn to return to the era of white-only customers.

The greatest achievement of Brown vs. Education is the impetus it gave to awakening America to the moral imperative of rejecting racism.

That 1954 Supreme Court decision, which started as a ripple, has now set in motion tidal waves of change. Because of its resulting social revolution, this nation is miles closer to being what it professes to be.

It was, itself, the result of a much earlier ripple-effect Supreme Court decision that brought about a tidal wave for change – in the exact opposite direction from the ruling. That was Plessy vs. Ferguson, which in 1896 upheld the legalized custom of “separate but equal” racial facilities.

While it retained the status quo that became the mantra of segregationists, its greatest consequence was to enshrine the institutions of racism, a glorification that finally became so patently repugnant to accepted standards of morality, decency and logic that an unstoppable public support for the cause of civil rights was fueled.

Thus, a ripple effect in one direction – toward a dark past – had helped create a tidal wave in the other direction.

Look for the companion University of Michigan decisions of June 23, 2003, to have a similar historic effect – first a ripple in uncertain directions, then ultimately a tidal wave in the right direction. They are:

Both sides will be declaring victory, at least partial, and both will be right, at least partially. So much for catalytic rulings from this court and all the more reason for fresh jurists on that bench, regardless of seniority.

Those Michigan decisions, combined, will generate a longer-term tidal wave of public awareness that will, in time, lead to the inevitable outlawing of racial discrimination in college admissions and employment in the public and private sectors.

The outgrowth of those unidentical-twin decisions will be a swelling of public awareness, then interest, then understanding of the palpable folly of “affirmative action,” which is nothing less than sugar coating for racism.

Even before those decision were announced, the ground was beginning to swell.

The Pew Research Center recently reported a survey that showed by 2 to 1 those questioned approve "programs designed to increase the number of black and minority students." That’s not necessarily the same as jimmying admissions to give blacks advantage over non-blacks.

Indeed, the same survey found that those surveyed disapprove 3 to 1 of giving minorities preferential treatment.

Essentially the same extent of revulsion for racial preferences was reflected in a Gallup Poll completed less than a week before the Michigan decisions.

When asked, “Should college applicants be admitted solely on merit or should racial and ethnic backgrounds be considered to help promote diversity on college campuses, even if that means admitting some minority students who would otherwise not be admitted?”

The tide is turning. Sea surge follows.

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It illustrates how decisions of the nation's highest court can have long-range ramifications often of contradictory and even greater consequences than their immediate impact. Sometimes it takes years, decades for the full effects to take place. Mountains of litigation and...
Judicial,Tidal,Effect
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2003-00-24
Tuesday, 24 June 2003 12:00 AM
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