As if we didn’t see this coming, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that closed held companies with religious owners can refuse to pay for contraception. But there’s a caveat — the government can pay for birth control itself, so the women will receive it. The Court makes clear that women can still get coverage and it isn’t opening the door to more religious claims. So, all is not lost.
In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter.
Sotomayor didn’t mention Chief Justice John Roberts by name, be was alluding to his frequently quoted line from 2007 case: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” Talking Points Memo reports.
But black Republican strategist Ron Christie begs to differ. He envisions “race-blind” education that can “focus on root problems.” Is that why we are seeing resegregation of schools in certain pockets of America?
Without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups. For that reason, our Constitution places limits on what a majority of the people may do. This case implicates one such limit: the guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
I take strong exception to the notion that a voter ballot initiative in Michigan to eliminate the consideration of race—and view all applicants based on their academic and extracurricular achievement—is oppressive of minority groups while limiting the Equal Protection provisions in the Bill of Rights. President Kennedy was prescient in his speech more than a half century ago when he touched on the very issues Justice Sotomayor addressed.