The Supreme Court puts affirmative action back on its docket
And this time the conservative supermajority could end race-conscious admissions policies once and for all.
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The Supreme Court announced on Monday it will examine whether universities can consider an applicant’s race during their admissions processes. The Court consolidated two cases asking it to overrule a 2003 landmark decision that held the University of Michigan could consider race as part of the school’s effort to assemble a diverse student body.
This is worrisome for advocates of race-conscious admissions policies — or “affirmative action” — because the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority could reverse the decision from 18 years ago.
“Gaining admission to college, whether it is Harvard or Hampton, should not be hampered because of an admission system that does not consider the whole student,” Shahara Jackson, an educational consultant and Chief Experience Officer of LyfPrints Inc., said to me. “A student’s race and ethnicity adds color to the fabric to the campus. Our country’s institutions should be allowed to ensure students are immersed in diverse communities of thought, which can only increase their understanding and appreciation of this country’s richness.”
In the first case, Students for Fair Admissions, an organization of thousands of mostly Asian-American and Pacific Islander students and parents who claim they were rejected by selective universities due to their races, argues that Asian Americans are less likely to be admitted than similarly qualified white, Black or Hispanic applicants.
The second case asserts that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process is a violation of the Constitution and Title VI, a law that prohibits racial segregation in schools and public accommodations.
The Court consolidated the two cases for oral argument, which will likely be heard early in the upcoming term that begins this October.
Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog reports more details if you’re interested.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment on the case itself during her daily press briefing on Monday and referred reporters to the Department of Justice. She then listed the actions President Joe Biden has taken to center equity throughout the government’s work, including $21 billion in investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, tribal colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. The administration also issued guidance last year to advance student civil rights and note the obligation schools have to investigate and address claims of discrimination.
“We strongly believe in the benefits of diversity in higher education,” Psaki said. “And we take very seriously our commitment to advancing equity and equal opportunity for historically underserved populations.”
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment.
The diversity gaps in higher education are widened by school segregation and education inequity students from marginalized communities experience before they ever apply to college.
A 2019 report by Sarah Mervosh at The New York Times found more than 50 percent of schoolchildren in the US are in racially concentrated districts. Some of these districts are also segregated by income. In fact, school districts that predominately serve students of color received $23 billion less in funding in 2016 than mostly white school districts in the US.
Race-conscious admissions policies are one method for balancing the scales for students who were given an unfair shake due to the color of their skin or their childhood zip code.
Jackson told me that racial identity, ethnicity and skin color have overtly and covertly factored into the quantity and quality of advancement opportunities.
“Whether we’re speaking about education, health care, housing, [wealth] or any other quantifiable category, you will find a disparity, which is directly tied to demography,” she said. “Until this is not the case, in all aspects of this country, then race will always be the thorn in the side of America.”
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The Supreme Court also rejected on Monday a challenge to proxy voting from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Proxy voting allows House members who are unable to vote in-person to designate a colleague to record a vote for them. House Democrats established the practice in May of 2020 to mitigate the risk of travel during the pandemic so the chamber could do its business with as few interruptions as possible.
“With this failed lawsuit, Republicans have worked to recklessly endanger the health of colleagues, staffers and institutional workers. In doing so, they have fought harder to try to score political points than they have fought to help struggling families during the pandemic,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “They do so with great shame and hypocrisy, as last year alone more than half of members of their conference designated a proxy so that they could vote remotely.”
The Court did not comment on why declined to hear McCarthy’s case. A spokesperson for McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment.
But in a statement when proxy voting was first authorized, McCarthy said that it violated the Constitution’s requirement for Congress to assemble in person.
“The Speaker’s reckless and partisan decision to adopt proxy voting was done despite unified opposition from the minority and even members of her own party,” he said. “This is a serious matter that will damage the integrity of the House’s actions now and in the future.”
25 House members have tested positive for COVID-19 in 2022 alone — an average of one infection per day this year, according to GovTrack, an independent project that monitors the activities of Congress. And another 43 members tested positive in 2021.
But in a tweet on Sunday responding to a rhetorical question from President Biden on the policies that govern the modern Republican Party, none that McCarthy listed had to do with ending the pandemic.
“Leader McCarthy has had his opportunity to challenge this rule in court and lost,” House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement on Monday night. “And I hope he will now encourage his Members to abandon these unwarranted legal distractions and work alongside Democrats to advance policies to address this pandemic and work to expand economic opportunity for working families.”
Republicans say they will end proxy voting if they win the House this November.
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President Biden held an 80-minute secure video call on Monday in the Situation Room with European leaders as part of the administration’s preparation to respond to Russia’s military buildup at the Ukrainian border.
There was one country noticeably absent from the call: Ukraine.
“We have a range of conversations with the Ukrainians. Obviously, our Secretary of State met with them last week and they will be a part of many conversations moving forward,” Jen Psaki said during her briefing.
Before boarding Air Force Two en route to DC from Wisconsin, where she was promoting the bipartisan infrastructure law, Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated the administration’s position against a Russian invasion.
“The bottom line is that we have been clear and consistent for quite some time that we respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and we expect that Russia would do the same and any aggressive action taken by Vladimir Putin will be met with severe consequences,” Harris said. “The ball is clearly in his court. I can’t tell you what he’s gonna do. But we are prepared to take decisive action if he moves in an aggressive manner into Ukraine.”
8,500 US personnel have been placed on high alert by the Defense Department to deploy should there be an immediate need. But no final order has been made yet.
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As reporters were ushered out of the East Room this afternoon after President Biden discussed the steps his administration is taking to lower inflation, he was asked by Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy if the high cost of goods was a liability for Democrats in an election year.
“That’s a great asset. More inflation,” Biden, who was visibly annoyed, said under his breath. “What a stupid son of a bitch.”
The reporter is also known for his often-viral exchanges with Jen Psaki. Biden critics enjoy his antagonism because they believe other news organizations give the administration a pass. Supporters of the president tune in to watch his chief spokesperson drop #Psakibombs in response.
This was the second time in less than a week Biden expressed frustration at a reporter from the conservative network.
Before a meeting last Thursday with his science and technology council, the president was asked by Jacqui Heinrich, Fox News’ other White House correspondent, why he was waiting on Putin to invade Ukraine before taking action.
“What a stupid question,” he said to himself.
Biden was caught on a hot mic both times. Both instances also explain why the White House press team holds its breath every time he speaks off-script. And both instances provide a glimpse into the mind of a frustrated president attempting to manage competing crises at home and abroad and feeling the pressure to turn them around.
Doocy said to Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Monday night that President Biden reached out to clear the air and the two shared a nice call, a gesture Doocy appreciated. Biden told him that it was nothing personal and they discussed moving forward.
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Today in Politics
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing with Vice President Harris this morning. There is nothing else on his public schedule today.
This afternoon the vice president will speak to the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, a group of 15 departments and agencies responsible for coordinating U.S. government-wide efforts to combat human trafficking.
The House is out.
The Senate is out.
Read All About It
Marin Cogan on the school shooting generation:
There’s no real guidebook for recovering from what they experienced. What distinguishes the thousands of survivors of the early wave of school mass shootings from those who came after is that they experienced those shootings in a world wholly unprepared to deal with the aftermath. Few got the mental health treatment now considered necessary for survivors of mass violence. As a result, many were left on their own, to process their trauma in the countless years — and school shootings — since.
Andrea González-Ramírez in conversation with Jen Psaki on failure and disappointments:
There are moments in your career when you don’t get the job you want or think you should get. I was up for this job twice before, and it was heartbreaking at the time. One of the things I’ve learned is that people will disappoint you. I don’t mean to be too dark. What I mean is, when I was in my twenties or early thirties, I would put mentors or put people I looked up to on a pedestal. My best advice would be to look at people for the gifts they have and what you can learn from them, and not to look to perfection, because that doesn’t exist out there.
Emily Stewart on Peloton:
Peloton’s fanbase is certainly strong. It has 6.2 million members, including digital-only subscribers (meaning people who use its app but didn’t buy any equipment). As of November, it had nearly 2.5 million connected fitness subscribers, meaning people who own one of its products and also pay to use its fitness content, like spin and running classes. Foley also noted that Peloton has a less than 1 percent churn rate, meaning people stay once they’re signed up. Still, it’s hard not to look at boutique fitness trends that came before Peloton, including those in the spin space like SoulCycle and FlyWheel, and wonder whether Peloton won’t face the same fate.
Last Not Least
A federal jury awards Cardi B $1.25 million in damages against a YouTuber for defamation • The FDA took two monoclonal antibody treatments off the list of COVID-19 therapies due to their ineffectiveness against Omicron • The case for Biden’s expanded child tax credit • Adele’s “Easy on Me” is still number one
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