Ketanji Brown Jackson accuses Clarence Thomas of having 'an obsession with race consciousness' and relying on 'many more straw men' than can be listed in his affirmative action opinion

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  • The Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions in a 6-3 decision on Thursday.

  • The court's two Black justices sharply criticized each other's arguments in their opinions.

  • Ketanji Brown Jackson said Clarence Thomas's opinion showed "an obsession with race consciousness."

The United States Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions in a 6-3 decision on Thursday, blocking higher educational institutions from considering race in admissions decisions.

The centrality of race to the case prompted a war of words between the Court's two Black justices in their respective opinions, with each offering starkly different views of the role that race should play in decision-making by policymakers writ large.

In his own 57 page long concurring opinion, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas — a staunch conservative appointed by Republican President George H.W. Bush — argued that "all forms of discrimination based on race — including so-called affirmative action" are prohibited under the US Constitution, offering a full-throated defense "colorblindness" in the founding document.

At times, he also made direct criticisms' of the dissenting opinion put forward by Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a liberal justice appointed to the court by President Joe Biden last year.

"As she sees things, we are all inexorably trapped in a fundamentally racist society, with the original sin of slavery and the historical subjugation of black Americans still determining our lives today," wrote Thomas.

"Worse still, Justice Jackson uses her broad observations about statistical relationships between race and select measures of health, wealth, and well-being to label all blacks as victims. Her desire to do so is unfathomable to me," Thomas later wrote. "I cannot deny the great accomplishments of black Americans, including those who succeeded despite long odds."

Thomas went on to argue that Jackson's "race-infused worldview falls flat at each step" and is "siloing us all into racial castes and pitting those castes against each other."

'An obsession with race consciousness'

Jackson's own 29-page dissent is dedicated to explaining the "universal benefits of considering race" in higher education, arguing that such considerations are important due to the "intergenerational transmission of inequality" that originated with slavery and continued through subsequent government policies in the decades since then.

"Given our history, the origin of persistent race-linked gaps should be no mystery," Jackson wrote. "History speaks. In some form, it can be heard forever. The race-based gaps that first developed centuries ago are echoes from the past that still exist today. By all accounts, they are still stark."

She also defended the admissions process at the University of North Carolina, noting that applicants' disclosure of their race on admissions forms is voluntary while lauding the institution for embracing "its constitutional obligation to afford genuine equal protection to applicants."

And in a footnote to her dissent, Jackson responded to Thomas' lengthy arguments against her own opinion.

She accused Thomas of demonstrating in his opinion an "obsession with race consciousness that far outstrips my or UNC's holistic understanding that race can be a factor that affects applicants' unique life experiences."

"Justice Thomas ignites too many more straw men to list, or fully extinguish, here," Jackson wrote. "The takeaway is that those who demand that no one think about race (a classic pink-elephant paradox) refuse to see, much less solve for, the elephant in the room— the race-linked disparities that continue to impede achievement of our great Nation's full potential."

She concluded by arguing that proponents of colorblindness "prevent our problem-solving institutions from directly addressing the real import and impact" of racism and are "deterring our collective progression toward becoming a society where race no longer matters."


Read the original article on Business Insider