8. There is nothing funny about affirmative action
My man Justice Clarence Thomas, as others have pointed out, is going to have to decide two very important issues that some have claimed belong to his race.. One being only incidental that being a significant policy initiative from the President, the second being affirmative action. As Harvard law school professors Kenneth W. Mack opines “only a justice whose rulings comport with the expectations of most black Americans will be representative of his race.” True, the Justice has a significant burden on his shoulder a significant burden he inherited from the first African-American to hold the seat before him the late Justice Thurgood Marshall. The Justice is not the only Justice who has been regarded as bearing a burden (Kennedy used to be the lone Catholic, Justice Ginsberg is the lone Jewish vote, Justice Sotomayor the lone Latin/a vote ). But his burden pales in comparison to Justice Marshall who at the time represented all black people worldwide. But I don’t see then why this should be a burden, this should be a sense of pride.
The Justice stance on affirmative action is clear–he will vote against any race conscious policy. For the Justice assuming a policy that African-American’s cannot get into school without “help” stamps them with a badge of inferiority. I think this is very simplistic and myopic from such an intellectual juggernaut. He will be criticized for his opinion and rightly so. He will feel compelled to write one as he should. The question I am concerned with is whether the Justice is a Republican first and an African-American second or vice versa (there separate?). This is the only confusion I see the Justice dealing with, even with an African-American President his voice has very symbolic meaning.
As a policy affirmative action is very simple to understand– there is significant inequality built into the system that has not made its way out of the system yet (maybe never will). You cannot deny this fact and it is a fact (anybody want to look up the history of the housing/mortgage system in this country as just one simple example of a myriad that can be used). Affirmative action is not a system where you check a box and you get admitted. Policies that promote inclusion, like affirmative action, are designed to equalize the conditions of a previously unfair race.
So I do hope that the Justice votes with his conscious and not his party.