Yhdysvaltain korkein oikeus palautti tänään vetoomustuomioistuimen uudelleen käsiteltäväksi jutun, jossa erään yliopiston opiskelijahaussa hylätyksi tullut hakija vaatii kyseisen yliopiston hakukriteereihin kuuluvan rotukomponentin kumoamista liittovaltion perustuslain vastaisena. Kyseisellä yliopistolla nimittäin hakijoiden rotutausta vaikuttaa yhtenä monista tekijöistä hakutuloksiin; tarkoituksena on tuottaa rotudiversiteettiä opiskelijakuntaan, eli kyse on niin sanotusta positiivisesta syrjinnästä. Korkeimman oikeuden enemmistö (kaikki tuomari Ginsburgia, joka oli eri mieltä, sekä itsensä jäävännyttä tuomari Kagania lukuunottamatta) katsoi, että vetoomustuomioistuin oli soveltanut korkeimman oikeuden ennakkopäätöksiä virheellisesti. Niiden mukaan positiivista syrjintää opiskelijahaussa tulee arvioida tiukasti (engl. “strict scrutiny”), siinä missä vetoomustuomioistuin oli luottanut yliopiston sanaan sen tarpeellisuudesta. SCOTUSblog kertoo tapauksesta tarkemmin.
Konservatiivina tunnettu tuomari Clarence Thomas, joka usein perustelee äänestyskäyttäytymistään korkeimmassa oikeudessa oman poikkeuksellisen oikeusfilosofiansa kautta eri tavoin kuin enemmistö, yhtyi enemmistön kantaan, mutta kirjoitti lisäksi pitkän lausuman positiivista syrjintää vastaan. Seuraavassa valittuja paloja Thomasin lausunnosta (PDF:n sivut 18–37). Merkityt muutokset lainausmerkkien ulkopuolella ovat minun; olen myös poistanut ilman eri merkintää lähdeviittaukset aiempiin oikeustapauksiin. Merkittyjen poistojen kohdalla olen toisinaan yhdistänyt tai jakanut kappaleita. Lihavoinnit ovat myös minun.
In [an earlier case], the University of Michigan Law School (Law School) claimed that it had a compelling reason to discriminate based on race. The reason it advanced did not concern protecting national security or remedying its own past discrimination. Instead, the Law School argued that it needed to discriminate in admissions decisions in order to obtain the “educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” […] I dissented from that part of the Court’s decision. I explained that “only those measures the State must take to provide a bulwark against anarchy, or to prevent violence, will constitute a ‘pressing public necessity’” sufficient to satisfy strict scrutiny. […] I adhere to that view today. As should be obvious, there is nothing “pressing” or “necessary” about obtaining whatever educational benefits may flow from racial diversity.
It is […] noteworthy that, in our desegregation cases, we rejected arguments that are virtually identical to those advanced by the University today. The University asserts, for instance, that the diversity obtained through its discriminatory admissions program prepares its students to become leaders in a diverse society. […] The segregationists likewise defended segregation on the ground that it provided more leadership opportunities for blacks. […] This argument was unavailing. [… N]o court today would accept the suggestion that segregation is permissible because historically black colleges produced Booker T. Washington, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other prominent leaders. Likewise, the University’s racial discrimination cannot be justified on the ground that it will produce better leaders.
[W]hile the University admits that racial discrimination in admissions is not ideal, it asserts that it is a temporary necessity because of the enduring race consciousness of our society. […] Yet again, the University echoes the hollow justifications advanced by the segregationists. […] But these arguments too were unavailing. The Fourteenth Amendment [to the federal Constitution] views racial bigotry as an evil to be stamped out, not as an excuse for perpetual racial tinkering by the State.
While I find the theory advanced by the University to justify racial discrimination facially inadequate, I also believe that its use of race has little to do with the alleged educational benefits of diversity. I suspect that the University’s program is instead based on the benighted notion that it is possible to tell when discrimination helps, rather than hurts, racial minorities. […] But “[h]istory should teach greater humility.” The worst forms of racial discrimination in this Nation have always been accompanied by straight-faced representations that discrimination helped minorities.“
[…] Slaveholders argued that slavery was a “positive good” that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life. […] A century later, segregationists similarly asserted that segregation was not only benign, but good for black students. They argued, for example, that separate schools protected black children from racist white students and teachers. […] And they even appealed to the fact that many blacks agreed that separate schools were in the “best interests” of both races.
Following in these inauspicious footsteps, the University would have us believe that its discrimination is likewise benign. I think the lesson of history is clear enough: Racial discrimination is never benign. “‘[B]enign’ carries with it no independent meaning, but reflects only acceptance of the current generation’s conclusion that a politically acceptable burden, imposed on particular citizens on the basis of race, is reasonable.” It is for this reason that the Court has repeatedly held that strict scrutiny applies to all racial classifications, regardless of whether the government has benevolent motives. […] The University’s professed good intentions cannot excuse its outright racial discrimination any more than such intentions justified the now denounced arguments of slaveholders and segregationists.
While it does not, for constitutional purposes, matter whether the University’s racial discrimination is benign, I note that racial engineering does in fact have insidious consequences. There can be no doubt that the University’s discrimination injures white and Asian applicants who are denied admission because of their race. But I believe the injury to those admitted under the University’s discriminatory admissions program is even more harmful.
The University admits minorities who otherwise would have attended less selective colleges where they would have been more evenly matched. But,
as a result of the mismatching, many blacks and Hispanics who likely would have excelled at less elite schools are placed in a position where underperformance is all but inevitable because they are less academically prepared than the white and Asian students with whom they must compete. Setting aside the damage wreaked upon the self-confidence of these overmatched students, there is no evidence that they learn more at the University than they would have learned at other schools for which they were better prepared. Indeed, they may learn less.
There is some evidence that students admitted as a result of racial discrimination are more likely to abandon their initial aspirations to become scientists and engineers than are students with similar qualifications who attend less selective schools. […] These students may well drift towards less competitive majors because the mismatch caused by racial discrimination in admissions makes it difficult for them to compete in more rigorous majors. […] Although cloaked in good intentions, the University’s racial tinkering harms the very people it claims to be helping.
En yhdy siihen, mitä tuomari Thomas kirjoittaa, mutta hänen argumentaationsa vaikuttaa (hänen lähdeviitteitään tarkastamatta) erittäin pätevältä. Nostan sen tällä tavalla esille lähinnä siksi, että mielestäni se ansaitsee huomiota suomalaisessakin syrjintäkeskustelussa.