For Release: June 23, 2003
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106
Supreme Court Affirmative Action Decision: Black Network Criticizes Muddled Ruling
A split ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that finds a constitutional justification for affirmative action is criticized by members of the African-American leadership network Project 21. The lack of a definitive ruling on the issue is considered a significant blow against a truly colorblind America.
In one decision, the justices allowed the University of Michigan to continue to use race as a factor in its law school admissions process. While the Court suggested that racial preferences be used sparingly, the University of Michigan's law school can still use a system that ensures a "critical mass" of certain minorities on campus. In the second case, a 150-point admissions system used at the undergraduate level that gave blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans a 20-point advantage because of their race was ruled unconstitutional.
"Today's decision only muddles the law on affirmative action," said Project 21 member Horace Cooper, a lawyer and former member of the George Mason University board of trustees. "The 'I know it when I see it' approach to constitutional lawmaking will lead to further challenges and greater division in America." Cooper added, "Letting skin color be the basis for admissions in law school, but not in undergraduate admissions is nonsensical. In the 21st Century, can't we embrace the principle of equal treatment before the law across the board?"
"It's disappointing to see the Supreme Court essentially give its approval to racial preferences. Contrary to some claims, the people who will be hurt the most are inner-city children," said Project 21 member Ak'Bar Shabazz. "The basic message relayed to the children is that hard work is secondary to skin color. This decision makes it increasingly difficult to bring out the potential in young students."
Mr. Cooper, Mr. Shabazz and other Project 21 members - including U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow - are available for comment on affirmative action and other issues affecting black America by contacting David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106.
As a public service to provide educational information about racial set-aside programs, Project 21 also maintains the "Affirmative Action Information Center" (http://www.nationalcenter.org/AA.html) as an online resource. It contains commentary from a variety of perspectives and also features articles, legislation and legal information related to affirmative action policy.
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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