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The Supreme Court takes on affirmative action
Justices will hear arguments on cases that will determine the future of college admissions policies. Plus: HUD promotes young adult homeownership and the LGBTQ’s movement to deepen the Dems’s bench.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome back to Supercreator, your guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping how creative professionals work and live in the new economy.
In today’s post, previews of the oral arguments for two Supreme Court cases that will determine the future of race-conscious admissions policies as colleges and universities, Supreme Court justices will hear on the and why the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development hopes you’ll accept her invitation to the department’s virtual “house party” this week. And eight days from Election Day, I zoom out from the national campaigns to focus on the LGBTQ movement’s deep investment in down-ballot races —an effort to deepen the Democratic Party’s bench for the next generation.
But first, The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, hosted its annual national dinner in Washington, DC this past Saturday — the first in-person dinner since the start of the pandemic, and the first under the leadership of HRC’s recently announced Incoming President Kelley Robinson.
Supercreator covered all the festivities, including the "blue carpet," rousing remarks from Robinson and Vice President Kamala Harris and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph receiving the National Ally for Equality Award.
Check out this Twitter moment for a roundup of the highlights.
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Two Supreme Court cases on one critical issue
The Supreme Court on Monday morning will hear oral arguments on two cases that will ask it to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 case that ruled colleges and universities can consider race in their admissions processes to achieve campus diversity and prohibit race-based affirmative action in higher education altogether.
The cases were brought back in 2014 by Students For Fair Admissions, a conservative group that recruits students who have been rejected by selective universities and files lawsuits on their behalf.
SFFA was founded by Edward Blum, a former stockbroker who connects potential plaintiffs with attorneys who are willing to represent them in “test cases” which he tries to use to set legal precedents. (Blum was a litigant and defeated in both Fisher cases, which challenged the University of Texas’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process.)
And although Harvard University and the University of North Carolina are the two schools challenged in the cases, the outcome will have sweeping ramifications: Over 40 percent of all US universities and 60 percent of selective universities consider race in some form during their admissions process.
“I think of all the incarnations of the Supreme Court in the past 20 years, none is better positioned to overturn Grutter than this court. And I’m convinced that they’re going to do that in these cases,” Aron Solomon, chief legal analyst at Esquire Digital, a company that helps trial lawyers grow their firms, told me on Friday. “I mean, you could be super optimistic and say, ‘Well, maybe they saw some things there that finally give them factual bases they need to support thre 2003 decision in Grutter.’ I don’t see it that way. I think affirmative action in the college and university setting is going to be done.”
Solomon said he’s especially concerned that a ruling for SFFA would be couched in the notion that people, even those from historically underserved and overlooked communities, should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and race-conscious admissions is a net negative for society.
If the Court decides not to overturn Grutter altogether, it can say that one of these two cases should follow the Grutter ruling. Or it could say that both of these cases have their own merits, but the law within Grutter remains the same.
Solomon said that you shouldn’t be delusional and believe that if Grutter gets overturned that the decision won’t extend beyond colleges and universities.
“There’s going to be a bleed in the workplaces, other types of programs — it won’t stop at that,” he said. “There’s no way the Supreme Court is going to put an intellectual or practical fence around this and say, even though these cases only apply to Harvard, North Carolina and will be applied to colleges, it’s [not] going to come into other areas of our society.”
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HUD to host virtual “house party” for young adults
Marcia Fudge, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was humorously candid on Friday when I asked her what inspired the agency to host an upcoming virtual “house party” to share information on available federal resources and bust common myths around the homebuying process for millennial and Gen Z adults.
“You want the honest truth, Michael?” Fudge inquired with a laugh. “My staff thought it’d be a great idea.”
And her staff may be onto something because recent research cited that young adult homeownership has been in decline since the 1960s. And the Urban Institute predicts this pattern will continue for the next several decades. This decline is more dramatic for Black Americans, who have been generationally excluded from pathways to wealth generation like homeownership.
“I would suggest very strongly to you, Michael, that homeownership is still the fastest way to wealth for 90 percent of this country,” Fudge said. “ There are always going to be people who found Apple or Facebook or something. But for the rest of us? This is our quickest and best path to building wealth for ourselves and for those who follow us.”
Fudge said the event is an opportunity for young people to understand how the process works and for HUD to address myths on debt and credit as well as share information on how federal programs can assist those who view homeownership as an impossibility.
“It’s to say to young people: This is an option for you,” she said. “Because as you know, rent is as high as it has ever been. If you’re going to pay rent, more than likely, you can afford a mortgage. So get something out of it. Start to build your own wealth.”
She will be joined by a number of special guests including Mayors Regina Romero of Tucson, Arizona, Steve Adler of Austin, Texas and Brandon Scott of Baltimore, Maryland, and presidents from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
If you feel homeownership is an unattainable ambition, Fudge said it’s important to talk to someone who can assist you navigate your situation, whether you have student debt, no credit or come from low-income backgrounds. (You can go to to hud.gov/counseling or call 800-569-4287 for assistance.)
Truth be told, homeownership is a tough prospect not just for young adults, but for all Americans as the Federal Reserve has aggressively raised interest rates in recent months, which has made it more expensive to borrow.
“Even though the economy is a little out of whack today, it’s not going to stay that way. So if you are ready, when the time comes for you to have the opportunity, then it will move so much better,” Fudge said. “So get informed and look at what your options are. Don’t count yourself out, count yourself in.”
The virtual “house party” takes place on Tuesday, November 1 at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can register to attend here.
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LGBTQ candidates look to deepen the Democratic Party’s bench
Most of the national airtime and news coverage this election cycle has focused on the most high-profile candidates and races in Congress and for governorships. But for organizations like Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to elect openly LGBTQ people at all levels of government, a major investment has been at the local level where most of the decisions that impact your daily life are made.
“We’re playing the long game,” Albert Fujii, a spokesperson for Victory Fund, said in an interview on Friday. “And so building a bench of folks who can get in at the local level, those are folks who are going to be able to run for higher office in the future. And that’s a trend we see and we’ve seen for the last couple of years.”
Fujii said that there are more LGBTQ school board candidates this year than ever before, an obvious reaction to the unprecedented and relentless attacks on LGBTQ youth and teachers in states like Florida. It’s also an aggressive response to the decades of persistent down-ballot organizing by the conservative movement that has secured control of 30 of the country’s state houses, 32 state senates, 28 governor’s offices and 23 trifectas, where the state house, the state senate, and the office of the governor are each controlled by Republicans.
“I just urge voters to obviously pay attention to who you’re voting for Congress, but also pay just as much, if not more attention at your local candidates,” he said. “Because a lot of those local candidates are the ones who are going to be really working on advancing pro-equality policy for LGBTQ students, for LGBTQ teachers who have been targeted by right-wing bigots this year in particular.”
LGBTQ voters are a critical segment of the electorate, but LGBTQ candidates have worked to build broad and diverse coalitions. The difference between which party controls Congress and those aforementioned state offices will be determined by whether candidates can inspire these coalitions to vote next week.
To ensure their candidates are successful, Victory Fund is on the ground in some of the most important states for the future of LGBTQ rights, such as Arizona, and Texas, and North Carolina.
“So many of our rights are on the ballot: Abortion rights are on the ballot, the future of marriage equality is on the ballot, the future of whether or not we have a pro-equality Congress in the future is on the ballot,” Fujii said. “And so staying home just isn't an option for us this year. Not that it ever is. But most importantly, this year, staying home isn't an option.”
Today in politics
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing this morning before traveling from Wilmington Delaware to New York City with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for a private memorial service. This afternoon, the president and first lady will return to the White House to host local children of firefighters, nurses, police officers, and members of the National Guard at the White House for trick-or-treating.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will travel to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to speak about protecting Social Security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug prices. He will also participate in a reception for Florida Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist in Golden Beach and travel to Miami Gardens to participate in a Democratic National Committee campaign event for Crist and Democratic candidate for Senate Val Demings.
Wednesday: Biden will speak about how his administration is strengthening the infrastructure talent pipeline.
Thursday: The president will travel to New Mexico and speak about student debt relief. He will also participate in a DNC rally.
Vice President Harris is in DC and has no events on her public schedule.
The House and Senate are out.
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