RBG: Ten Percent Plan Is Race Conscious

June 24th, 2013

Shockingly, the Ten Percent Plan gets no scrutiny at all in the majority opinion.

RBG says the majority is sticking its head in the sand:

Petitioner urges that Texas’ Top Ten Percent Law and race-blind holistic review of each application achieve significant diversity, so the University must be content with those alternatives. I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternatives as race unconscious. See Gratz, 539 U. S., at 303–304, n. 10 (dissenting opinion). As Justice Souter observed, the vaunted alternatives suffer from “the disadvantage of deliberate obfuscation.” Id., at 297–298 (dissenting opinion). Texas’ percentage plan was adopted with racially segregated neighborhoods and schools front and center stage. See House Research Organization, Bill Analysis, HB 588, pp. 4–5 (Apr. 15, 1997) (“Many regions of the state, school districts, and high schools in Texas are still predominantly composed of people from a single racial or ethnic group. Because of the persistence of this segregation, admitting the top 10 percent of all high schools would provide a diverse population and ensure that a large, well qualified pool of minority students was admitted to Texas universities.”). It is race consciousness, not blindness to race, that drives such plans.2

2 The notion that Texas’ Top Ten Percent Law is race neutral calls to mind Professor Thomas Reed Powell’s famous statement: “If you think that you can think about a thing inextricably attached to something else without thinking of the thing which it is attached to, then you have a legal mind.” T. Arnold, The Symbols of Government 101 (1935) (internal quotation marks omitted). Only that kind of legal mind could conclude that an admissions plan specifically designed to produce racial diversity is not race conscious.

I wonder why no one else joined RBG’s dissent. Sotomayor? Breyer? All alone. I wonder how all those calling for RBG to retire feel about this?