Correspondence

Scandalous Education: UT’s War on Standards

In 2003, the Supreme Court expected “that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary” in university admissions.  That was the conventional wisdom of the time.  Affirmative action was supposed to be a temporary deviation from the principle of nondiscrimination, a remedy for injustices past, a bit of accelerated democratization.  When the Court considered the matter again last year, there was no mention of any expiration date.  The conservatives opposed it on principle, as ever, but Anthony Kennedy abandoned everything he’d previously said on the matter and simply conformed his opinion to the wishes of the academy, represented by the University of Texas.

The curious thing about the case wasn’t that Kennedy surrendered to fashion; he’s been known to do that.  It was the defendant.  Texas, after all, is supposed to be dominated by conservatives.  It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since a Democrat was elected to statewide office, and Republicans usually have something close to a supermajority in both houses of the legislature.  Why don’t Texas Republicans simply ban racial considerations in admissions at public universities?  Why don’t they go further, and clear out some of the rot?  Why don’t they stand up for the Permanent Things?  This is the essence of conservatism, yet these state Republicans...

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