In the United States, the Supreme Court prohibits positive discrimination

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In the United States, the Supreme Court prohibits positive discrimination

The Supreme Court of the United States continues the liquidation of the achievements of the 1960s. A year after having removed the constitutional protection of the right to abortion, difficult to interpret otherwise its decision, announced this Thursday, June 29, to prohibit discrimination positive in universities, instituted by John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1961.

Very improperly translated in France as “positive discrimination”, these policies aimed to reduce socio-ethnic inequalities in a country one of whose foundations is based on the “racial question”. There is nothing surprising in this decision of the six conservative judges appointed for this purpose: to erase what the protest and mobilization movements have conquered during the 20th century.

Opponents of positive discrimination had to do it several times before having his skin. On three occasions (1978, 2003 and 2016), the highest judicial body in the country had confirmed the right for a university to take into account ethnic criteria to select its students in order to promote diversity on campuses.

Support that is eroding in American public opinion

The “new version” Supreme Court (with the three appointments made by Donald Trump) had to rule on a complaint filed in 2014 and targeting two establishments, the private Harvard University in Massachusetts and the public one in North Carolina. A group of students of Asian origin disputes this measure, believing that it penalizes them vis-à-vis other minorities.

Unlike the right to abortion, supported by a majority of Americans, affirmative action does not benefit from frank and massive support. According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in April, half of Americans disapprove of the correction of inequalities on the ethnic criterion against a third who approve.

Blacks remain in favor at 47% and disapprove at 29%. Hispanics are split (39% for, 39% against), whites opposed (57% against, 29% for) and Democrats less enthusiastic (54% for, 29% against). Even among its supporters, the limits of these proactive policies based on the logic of “quotas” have become apparent. They nevertheless considered positive discrimination as a bulwark against the inequalities that will now have free rein.

In any event, it was not Congress – a legislative body elected by direct universal suffrage – which decided to put an end to it, but a judicial body made up of nine judges appointed for life, half of them by presidents (George W. Bush and Donald Trump) in the minority in the vote. In the United States, country of common law, case law therefore makes the law, sometimes to the detriment of elected officials. To this is now added a form of “democratic denial”.


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Fred Richardson

a computer enthusiast with an insatiable appetite for problem-solving. After graduating with a degree in Computer Science in 2010, he embarked on a lifelong journey of exploring the intricacies of technology. For the past 25 years, Fred has dedicated himself to building custom PCs, mastering the art of hardware and software integration. With a deep-rooted belief in the power of coding, he has sought to unravel the complexities of life's challenges through lines of programming. From the early days of DOS 3.3 to the present, Fred has been a steadfast support for users, utilizing his knowledge to assist and guide others in navigating the ever-changing world of technology.