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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

Liberty Update

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Is Banning Racial Preferences Unconstitutional? Supreme Court Will Decide Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Wednesday, March 27 2013
So does it violate the Constitution for voters to ensure nondiscrimination, even though the Constitution explicitly commands nondiscrimination?

Since its inception, “affirmative action” has barely survived judicial scrutiny. 

That it has survived at all is a wonder of judicial contortion.  The 14th Amendment, ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War, mandates, inter alia, equal protection of individuals under law: 

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 

The Constitution should be read to mean what it says.  It wasn’t drafted or intended to be esoteric, understood and applied only by a particular group.  Rather, it’s a popular document to be followed and applied by a participating electorate.  While no linguistic endeavor of man can be perfect in that regard, it is elegant and singularly enduring for its clarity, not its Byzantine complexity. 

Yet according to some, including the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Constitution doesn’t mean what it says.  Somehow, they claim, the Equal Protection Clause prohibits voters from outlawing racial preferences by their state universities.  

So does it violate the Constitution for voters to ensure nondiscrimination, even though the Constitution explicitly commands nondiscrimination?  This week, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will address the matter in its next term. 

The case stems from a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative, in which a resounding 58% majority amended the state constitution to prohibit racial and sexual preferences in public education, employment and contracting.  Three years earlier, the Supreme Court had overturned the University of Michigan’s undergraduate racial admission preferences, but allowed its law school admission formula to survive.  Accordingly, voters in that relatively liberal state approved the 2006 Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) to settle the matter. 

Other states across America have adopted such measures, including California ten years earlier.  For their part, courts have generally rejected legal challenges to those laws, including the far-left Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court. 

Undeterred, an activist group going by the unwieldy name “Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary” decided to challenge the Michigan initiative.  Their opposition centered on the allegation that banning racial preferences is unfair, because universities can still accord preference to such groups as children of alumni. 

Never mind that we had to fight the Civil War and amend our Constitution because of racial discrimination, not alumni preferences or athletic scholarships.  Further, the only way to end admission discrimination in every form would be to admit every single person who applied, regardless of grades, test scores or other distinctive talents.  There are some forms of discrimination, however, that a free and fair society cannot abide.  Such characteristics as race, sex, national origin and religion differ in kind, not merely degree, from more trivial distinctions. 

Remarkably, the Sixth Circuit nevertheless accepted challengers’ argument, even where the Ninth Circuit and others did not.  By a narrow 8-7 margin, that Court ruled that the MCRI unconstitutionally encumbered racial minorities by rendering state government unable to continue affirmative action preferences.  According to Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr., who wrote the majority opinion, the law amounted to an effort by the majority “to manipulate the channels of change in a manner that places unique burdens on issues of importance to racial minorities.” 

So non-discrimination is discriminatory? 

And states across the nation must suddenly reinstate racial preferences? 

Such a result is untenable judicially, logically or linguistically, and the Supreme Court has accepted the opportunity to restore reason to the matter.  Curt Levey, counsel of record in the 2003 cases challenging Michigan’s race-based admissions policies, captured the issue well:  “The Fourteenth Amendment, lest we lose sight of the forest for the trees, does not require what it barely permits.” 

Or, as stated by Chief Justice John Roberts in a 2007 affirmative action case, “The way to end discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” 

That is exactly what Michigan voters overwhelmingly attempted to do.  It is now the Supreme Court’s task to affirm that the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause actually means what it says. 

A nation’s laws are only as good as those who apply them, and Americans should remember this whenever they wonder why elections and judicial appointments matter. 

Notable Quote   
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?