Skip to comments.O'Connor Makes Catchphrase Law of the Land
Posted on 06/29/2003 3:36:08 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
I have a sneaking sympathy for Dick Gephardt. Hitherto the Democratic Party's most reliably unexciting presidential candidate, the former House minority leader went bananas the other day and said if the Supreme Court did something he didn't like he'd sign an executive order overturning it.
Several conservatives did a bit of pro forma huffin' an' a-puffin' about why this makes Gephardt unfit to be president. But, speaking personally, I can't see why rule by Dick-tat would be worse in principle than the present system, whereby the nation's course for the decades ahead is effectively set by executive orders from Sandra Day O'Connor, the Supreme Court's eternal swing vote and tiebreaker-in-residence. Poised between opposing ideological quartets, Swingin' Sandra inclines not to black and white but swims in the murky gray in between. The trick for those appearing before the court is to decide the precise degree of murk at which Sandra will jump.
This last week provided some useful guidelines, with Supreme Court rulings on diversity and sodomy. Whatever your position, sodomy is a precisely defined act. It means--Well, let's not get into that, as the choirboy said to the--oh, never mind. My point is that laws ought to be about clearly defined acts and a high court should be concerned with the legal principles at stake in those acts. Whether or not you dig it as a personal philosophy, ''diversity'' makes a poor legal concept. It was not intended to be precisely defined, but instead woozy and fluffy and soft-focus. It makes a fabulous bumper sticker: ''Celebrate Diversity.'' But it makes a poor legal concept to enshrine at the heart of the U.S. Constitution, which is where Swingin' Sandra's vote put it last week.
The correct term is ''racial quotas,'' but that's too bald, too clear. So its proponents came up with the coy evasion of ''affirmative action.'' But over the years that also became tarnished. Hence the invention of ''diversity.'' Who could be against ''diversity''? Who wouldn't want to celebrate it? It's the perfect enlightened vapidity.
But whoever thought it'd fly as a legal concept? Last week, the court had before it two models of University of Michigan diversity: In the first version--the undergraduate school's system--they give you 20 points for being black. You need 150 points to get in. So, by being born black, you're 13 percent of the way there.
Tough for whitey, but he knows the rules. If Albert Gore IV wants to get into the joint, he understands Jesse Jackson XXVII has got a head start and he's gonna have to make up those 20 points somewhere else. Being a scion of the first Android American to run for president is not an approved minority group. Nor is being a Jew or Asian or a Pacific islander from Tuvalu.
Cruel, but it's all there in the fine print. Down the road at the Law School, the same thing goes on in practice, but it's all swathed and swaddled in vague, soothing multiculti mumbo-jumbo and is ''flexible enough to consider all pertinent elements of diversity in light of the particular qualifications of each applicant, and to place them on the same footing for consideration, although not necessarily according them the same weight,'' whatever that means. But whatever it means, it's less vulgar than handing out points for pigmentation.
As Swingin' Sandra put it, approvingly, the Law School (like Sandra) ''engages in a highly individualized, holistic review . . . flexible, non-mechanical . . . soft variable . . . nuanced judgment . . . potential to enrich . . .'' Zzzzzzzz.
Which is the point. The court's message is: As long as we don't see how the sausage is made, you're OK. Take your ''soft variables'' into the smoke-filled room. Worse, the court has dignified ''diversity''--a flag of activist convenience, a wily obfuscation--as a compelling state interest, and on its promoters' terms.
''Diversity'' doesn't extend to, say, some dirtpoor piece of fundamentalist white trash. Her presence wouldn't ''enrich'' anyone. ''Diversity'' means ''more blacks.'' That's why traditional African-American colleges are exempt from its strictures: As 100 percent black schools, they're already as diverse as you can get.
As a general rule, the more noisily an institution proclaims its commitment to diversity, the more slumped in homogeneity it gets--at least when it comes to the only diversity that matters, not diversity of race or gender or orientation, but diversity of ideas. Take the New York Times and its star columnist Maureen Dowd. Of all the various aspects of the judgment, the one that took Maureen's fancy was that a black man had had the effrontery to vote against quotas for blacks! Pronouncing Clarence Thomas ''barking mad,'' she declared, ''He knew that he could not make a powerful legal argument against racial preferences, given the fact that he got into Yale Law School and got picked for the Supreme Court thanks to his race.''
Really? He didn't get into Yale on merit? Only because he was black? How does she know? And, by taking it as read that he's only there to make up the race numbers, doesn't she inadvertently confirm Thomas' point? That the cult of diversity stigmatizes all blacks: No matter how high they soar, the assumption of white liberals like Miss Dowd is that it's because of white liberals making allowances for them. How dare that uppity nigra be so ungrateful to Massa Sulzberger and all the fine ladies up at the big house who got him into the nice Liberal Guilt Academy for the Exotically Disadvantaged! ''It's poignant, really,'' sighs Maureen. ''It makes him crazy that people think he is where he is because of his race, but he is where he is because of his race.''
Here's a game we can all play: It's poignant, really. Maureen knew that she couldn't make a powerful argument if her life depended on it, given the fact that she got into the New York Times thanks to her gender. It makes her crazy that people think she's where she is because the buttoned-down white guys running the Times needed a fluffy-chick quota hire but . . .
American liberals have had great success inventing evasive language to advance their agenda, ever since ''abortion'' became ''choice.'' Only the other week, with the cooperation of foolish, short-sighted Republicans, ''welfare'' morphed into ''tax credit.''
But one purpose of a court of last resort should be to reject the seduction of euphemism, to demand plain language and clear meaning.
''Diversity'' narrows the mind, it pigeonholes us into identity-group stereotypes, some approved, some not, but all so limiting that Maureen Dowd's ''diversity'' can't even grapple with the concept of a ''black conservative.'' Indeed, a ''diverse'' culture can't even be honest about its racist past.
Lester Maddox, Georgia's last segregationist governor and a white restaurateur who closed his business rather than be forced to serve blacks, died last week, and neither ABC, CBS nor NBC could bring themselves to tell viewers that this man was (gasp!) a Democrat. Imagine that: a racist Democrat.
Oh, come on, nobody's that diverse.
Somehow or other... diversity and depravity are only a court ruling apart !!!
That is with out question, but "compelling state interest" is infinitely worse and more destructive to liberty as a legal concept than "diversity."
Close behind as a liberty denying and disparaging legal concept is the phrase "public safety" when used by your governments as justification for denying and disparaging your rights.
This is my favorite part. With this column, Steyn hits another one "to da moon."
That's true; he's a Mencken for our time. ;^)
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit the Palace Of Reason:
The one I like that you can get out of the column:
"Points for Pigmentation"
As 100 percent black schools, they're already as diverse as you can get.
Ding ding ding ding WE HAVE A WINNER.
His legal analysis is funny, even though the subject is deadly serious. He didn't mention (you can only pack so much brilliance into one article) that the "sharply divided" (a term liberals use when they lose narrowly) Supreme Court raised the fuzzy concept of "diversity" above explicit statements in the Bill of Rights. Various rights in the Bill of Rights can now be ignored if you invoke the magic word "diversity".
The sharply-divided Supreme Court has given liberals a road map on how to get around any other item in the Constitution they find inconvenient. I could see the Second Ammendment effectively destroyed by the Court choosing a test case with the proper leftist buzzwords for confiscation. And yet they'd point out that the Bill of Rights was still there on paper.
For the past couple of months, the RINO Detroit News has been running full-page "news" articles, and sometimes an entire section, stating the danger to society if affirmative action was struck down. The RAT Detroit Free Press, which is so far left it thinks it's in California, must have been even more panicky.
With all that fearmongering aimed at the general public, which can't influence the Supreme Court, imagine what was discussed at cocktail parties and email chats in DC. I'm sure the Justices picked up the whiff of fear, and knew that not only was life as we know it at risk, but maybe even civil war. Who wants to be blamed for that, when proclaiming Diversity to be a higher good than the Constitution itself.
The more I see of O'Connor, the more I'm convinced she's just a publicity whore.
The official iconoclast, principle be damned.
A week or so ago, I read this Maureen Dowd column and "uppity" is exactly the word that came to mind as the word liberals must think when they read Thomas's opinions.
The official iconoclast, principle be damned.
Agreed. She thinks if she keeps slicing babies in half, people will say that she's Solomon.
Kennedy's open admission that something as ephemeral and transitory as public opinion carries much of the weight in the court's decisions is at least an honest confession. Thirty years ago the high court had to make the most torturous mental contortions imaginable in trying to justify Roe on constitutional grounds, but now this court apparently believes the American people have become sufficiently ignorant of the Constitutional-Republic form of government to accept "emerging" public opinion as a legitimate basis for the court's decisions.
As of last week all state and local legislative bodies are superficial and unnecessary. Congress itself is now nothing more than an expensive debating society and enrichment program for rich politicians. The USSC has in effect appointed itself as the supra-legislative body of the US, and any legislation which conflicts, not with the Constitution but with the court's philosophy of governance and it's evaluation of "emerging" public opinion, is dead on arrival and not worth the paper on which it is written.
What does the Constitution say about the right to keep and bear arms? Doesn't matter anymore, it only matters how five justices feel about the matter, and of course, on the "emerging" popular opinion of the masses. What about the right to be secure in one's person, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure? Same thing, five enlightened justices will decide the issue based on their own philosophy and on "emerging" popular opinion, and without all the bothersome fuss over Constitutional restraints on government's power. It is certainly simpler that way, but even simpler if we just appointed a dictator for life. Oh wait, no need for that, we have nine of them now.
Some of us have known it for decades, but now it's official. The US government has become in essense just an oligarchy of nine unelected, untouchable, appointed for life, "enlightened ones". Those nine people have far more unchallengeable authority over our lives than King George had over the lives of the Colonials.
In Mexico, they don't even know the meaning of the word "diversity", much less practice it.
This is unfortunate for very different reasons than you espouse.
It seems to me that affirmative action was defined as proactive measures to repair the damage done by generations of cultural and institutionalized discrimination against definable groups. The lexicon took on other phrases, such as "leveling the playing field" to describe the ends justifying the means of affirmative action. The debate centered on the legal and appropriate methods to correct a wrong as quickly as possible to open opportunity and demonstrate success to the next generation.
I opposed affirmative action, but find it ironic often how diversity is scoffed at by conservatives that have clearly not thought out their argument or fail to observe the culture they live in. For example:
Contrast an argument against Black Entertainment Television with the established White Entertainment Television - and then the "diversity" argument against conservative media (talk radio, FNC) and the established liberal media.
As a conservative, I am a big believer of diversity. I can't stand the gender impolitic stereotype "yes men" or Stepford group identity that often characterizes established organizations, and institutions. I am convinced that we are individualistically different, there are differences that can be identified as valuable, and individuals with valuable differences that are missing from your organization should be recruited and admitted until a critical mass that meets the organizational need is met. Being black alone plays an increasingly small role in your valuable and/or unique contribution. What's missing in many organizations, especially those that operate globally, are traits to communicate and compete in the Middle East and Asia. However, where you skin pigmentation or gender gives your company an advantage in these regions, combined with your skill in developing, producing or marketing a product/service, your diversity should definitely be considered.
Just wanted to add my perspective before the issue became too black and white.
Actually enjoyed the article until right here. From hearing other Freepers and from what I've read Lester Maddox was a good man. His views at the time might not be PC today, and ignore the fact that the real story has been rewritten, but he was a good man nonetheless
Thanks for the Steyn interview Annaz!! Im looking forward to the next one!
Both suffer from the same problem of being amorphous. "Diversity" is definitely in the eye of the beholder and can be interpreted in just about any way the colleges need to in order to advance their agenda.
I am so glad that Steyn decided to focus on the "diversity" ruling (let's stop saying this is an "affirmative action" ruling -- the rules of the game have changed and it is now "diversity") vs. a column on the sodomy ruling. Both are outrages, really; but, with the "diversity" ruling, my "equal protection under the law" constitutional right has been taken away from me for the purposes of college admission (and employment I imagine). The same with my children, and (because Sandra decided to arbitrarilly pull a number 25 out of the air) perhaps my grandchildren.
Okay, so I don't have a college education, so perhaps I'm reading this wrong, but isn't that the practical effect of this ruling --- to remove the "equal protection" clause in the Constitution from certain ethnic groups?
Thanks for the Steyn interview Annaz!!
That's why Ann Coulter's books hit such a raw nerve - the truth is painfull.
Socialists stay up nights, figuring how they can devise hate crime laws that will eventually make Annie's books criminal acts -- and how they can maneuver spineless, "me, too" Republicans into going along with it.
Yes, Liz. Even some of us with college educations are still able to read that.