Did Standford’s Tantrum Blow Up the Affirmative Action Case? | Opinion | Did Standford’s Tantrum Blow Up the Affirmative Action Case? | Opinion – Students for Fair Admissions

Did Standford’s Tantrum Blow Up the Affirmative Action Case? | Opinion

Earlier this month a mob of students and administrators at Stanford’s Law School disrupted a Federalist Society event that was to feature a lecture by federal Court of Appeals judge Kyle Duncan. The angry mob, shouting and hurling threatening epithets at the judge, prevented him from speaking, thereby preventing other students from hearing what he had to say.

The school’s associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Tirien Steinbach, who sent out an email prior to the event alerting students to the scheduled appearance of a judge whose views, she wrote, had caused “upset and outrage.” At the event itself, Dean Steinbach took the microphone and, instead of calming the protestors, fired them up further by berating Judge Duncan for his views, describing them as “abhorrent” and “harmful” and undeserving of First Amendment protections. She rebuffed his attempts to answer.

This is a developing pattern at universities—deans and administrators charged with promoting “diversity” orchestrate disruptions, protests, and suppression of differing views. As the diversity bureaucracies have expanded, so have the frequency of these disruptions, usually carried out in the name of diversity.

The tantrum at Stanford occurred while U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing challenges to race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. The cases were argued in October, with plaintiffs and defendants both bringing forward high-level constitutional and statutory arguments. Harvard and UNC (like most other schools) claimed that race can and should be used to a limited degree in admissions in order to promote “diversity” in higher education. Plaintiffs, represented by Students for Fair Admissions, claim that racial criteria are used to keep out qualified Asian students—and that they are forbidden by the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court is expected to render a decision near the end of its term in June.

An important subtext to the arguments involves a disagreement over whether the campaign on behalf of diversity has in fact improved the quality of education at colleges and universities. This is an issue that has divided the country for decades, and to some degree is on trial in these two cases.

Harvard asserts in its brief that decades of experience and study prove “that diversity ‘lead[s] to greater knowledge’ for everyone,” and promotes “the tolerance and mutual respect that are so essential to the maintenance of our civil society.” The brief goes on to say that Harvard’s curriculum and admissions policies “are designed to expose students to ‘new ideas, new ways of understanding, and new ways of knowing,’ in and outside the classroom.” The use of race as a factor in admissions, Harvard claims, is essential to the goal of recruiting classes of students with different backgrounds and experiences and a variety of different ideas, belief systems, and racial identities. Diversity is a great success, says Harvard, such that its policies should be upheld by the Court. This view is endorsed in amicus briefs submitted by many universities and advocacy groups.

Students for Fair Admissions replied in its brief and oral arguments that race or racial identity cannot be used as surrogates for anyone’s views, background, or outlook on the world. SFFA’s brief cited opinions by Chief Justice John Roberts—who wrote that “it is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race”—and by the late Justice Scalia—who wrote that “discrimination on the basis of race is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, inherently wrong, and destructive of democratic society.”

In the midst of this controversy, news of the Stanford incident must have landed like an explosion in the conference room where Supreme Court Justices debate pending cases, and where they are now wrestling with the meaning of diversity and its supposed benefits for higher education. If diversity is so important for freedom of thought and the robust exchange of ideas, why are students and administrators shutting down debates in the name of diversity? Why, indeed, are these attacks on the First Amendment led by deans of “diversity, equity, and inclusion?” Debate and conflict are essential to our adversarial system of justice—yet the protesters at Stanford want to hear only from those who agree with them. That is not what “diversity” was supposed to encourage.

For some Justices, several of whom were members of the Federalist Society or have spoken at events sponsored by the group, the Stanford episode may have provoked further skepticism about the diversity campaign on campus. Far from being beneficial, they may have concluded, it has proven harmful to the purposes of higher education. The diversity campaign is turning colleges and universities into seminaries for intolerance.

The protesters at Stanford are likely not aware of it, but their actions may have blown up the affirmative action cases. A majority of the Court may have been inclined already to strike down the diversity rationale that Harvard and other schools use to justify race-based admissions policies. The tantrum at Stanford might have finally settled the case.

Read the full piece from Newsweek here.