Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 1, 2009 / 16 Tamuz 5769

Are we ready for a post-racial society?

By Nat Hentoff


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In its widely anticipated decision in Ricci v. DeStefano — the New Haven firefighters' case — a majority of the Supreme Court evaded a significant opportunity to seriously question the constitutionality of the long familiar affirmative-action claims by groups and classes that they had been discriminated against by race, gender, et al. I agree with the late Justice William O. Douglas — passionately opposed to discrimination in any form — that the 14th Amendment guarantees "equal protection of the laws" to individuals. Although validating the promotion of the 18 firefighters (17 white and one Hispanic) — despite New Haven having discarded the test because no black aspirants made the cut — the court declined to deal with the winners' citation of the 14th Amendment that forbids any state to "deny to any PERSON within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."


Instead, the majority of the justices focused on a statute, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that bans intentional discrimination because of "race, color, religion, sex or national origin." The court's decision included another law, codified by Congress in 1991, that bars employment tests resulting in a "disparate (negative) impact" on hiring minorities unless the employer can prove that the tests were job-related and necessary to its business.


But Justice Antonin Scalia, though concurring, cited a 1995 Supreme Court case, Miller v. Johnson — ignored by the majority — stating "the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class." I began my controversial opposition to class-based affirmative action years ago in the course of an interview with Justice Douglas while I was covering early affirmative-action cases. On that morning, he was very angry with his brethren because the court's majority had punted on an affirmative-action case, DeFunis v. Odegaard — declaring it moot (no opinion issued).


Marco DeFunis, white, had been denied admission to the University of Washington Law School while 44 minority candidates were welcomed, 36 of whom had lower scores than DeFunis on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Charging reverse discrimination, DeFunis sued Dr. Charles E. Odegaard, then president of the University of Washington.


When Douglas' brethren declined to rule on the case, he vigorously dissented, telling me when we met: "This case is NOT moot! This is an issue that is inevitably going to come before us, and so we should address it NOW."


Instead of race-based admission policies, Douglas argued in his dissent, decisions should be made "on the basis of individual attributes, rather than according to a preference solely on the basis of race."


In subsequent public debates I had with ardent supporters of class-based affirmative action, I brought Justice Douglas into the stormy discussion, quoting from his dissent:


"Such a policy (based on individuals) would not be limited to blacks or Chicanos or Filipinos, or American … groups such as these may in practice be the principal beneficiaries of it. But a poor Appalachian white or a second-generation Chinese in San Francisco or some other American whose lineage is so diverse as to defy ethnic labels may demonstrate similar potential and thus be accorded favorable by the (admissions) committee."


What did Douglas mean by "potential?"


He cited "a black applicant who pulled himself out of the ghetto into a junior college may thereby demonstrate a level of motivation, perseverance and ability that shows an admissions committee more promise for law study than the son of a rich alumnus who achieved better grades at Harvard."


Before and after the High Court's decision on the New Haven firefighters, there have been many speculations on whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor's having voted in the lower courts to summarily dismiss the white firefighters' case would affect her nomination to the Supreme Court.


In view of her other more considered rulings that do not narrowly categorize her constitutional views, I think she will ascend to the court. But does she remember what she said to a group of students in 1994 about the Brown v. Board of Education Court decision? She told them: "Brown said to the country it's against our Constitution to treat each other differently. Everybody has to be given the same opportunity … look around the room. There's a lot of colors in this room." Each one of them an American.


The named plaintiff in Ricci v. DeStefano, Frank Ricci, got to the heart of the court's decision on National Public Radio (June 29): "I think this is just proof positive that people should be treated as individuals and not statistics. And that won out at the Supreme Court this day."


Not all the way to a post-racial society, Justice William O. Douglas' 14th Amendment views on individuals' equal protection of the laws have yet to be considered by the Roberts court. <

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.

Nat Hentoff Archives

© 2006, NEA

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles