Meanwhile, Back at the Branch

In the few days I was away to take my son to tour colleges, the country dramatically changed in several ways, including in regard to life on the campuses we visited. That’s how it is in today’s America, where SCOTUS offers regular reminders that it’s hammer time. If you blink, you’ll miss massive alterations as a six-person Supreme Court majority built to turn back the clock deep sixes existing laws. While we’re fixated on the flame wars and reality television associated with political sideshows of the other two branches, the Court’s majority has branched out, overturning Roe, and now Affirmative Action and Biden’s student debt relief plan. The only government branch that seems to matter right now doing exactly what everyone thought they would.

+ “The ruling by the Court’s six Republican-appointed justices prevents higher-education institutions from considering race in admissions precisely as kids of color, for the first time, comprise a majority of the nation’s high-school graduates. Against that backdrop, the decision could widen the mismatch between a youth population that is rapidly diversifying and a student body that is likely to remain preponderantly white in the elite colleges and universities that serve as the pipeline for leadership in the public and private sectors. That seems a formula guaranteed to heighten social tension.” Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic: Curtailing Affirmative Action Is a Blow Against a Rising Generation. Universities need to address this and one assumes they’ve been planning for this eventuality. I used to teach at a bottom five high school in Brooklyn where the students (all of whom were Black) were confronted by constant violence outside of school and then passed through metal detectors on their way into a building where decent teachers were the exception. Later, when I was getting my master in education at Harvard, I taught at an alternative school for kids in in the Boston area, including Black kids from Roxbury and white kids from Southie. Every kid I taught had an educational experience that was a thousand times harder than the one I had. One way or another, higher education has to take these differences, and our basic American history of racism, into account. If they don’t, everyone loses, including wealthy white students. A less diverse campus is a lesser campus for all students.

+ Are you a person of color who wants to enter an elite university? You’re on your own. But if you want to risk your life for the country, we’ve got you. Military academies can still consider race in admissions. Military academies can still consider race in admissions.

+ How will the affirmative action ban change the collegiate landscape? For a clue, look to California, where affirmative action has been banned since 1996. Plus, the impact of affirmative action at the University of California in one graphic.

+ Debt Limit: “The U.S Supreme Court handed President Joe Biden a painful defeat on Friday, blocking his plan to cancel $430 billion in student loan debt – a move that had been intended to benefit up to 43 million Americans and fulfill a campaign promise.” (There are still a few political cards to play when it comes to student debt relief.) Sidenote: In general, the college admission process is a nightmare and schools are way too expensive. Education should give you a boost, not shackle you to a financial anvil.

+ Site Line: The cases that foreshadow the most about what we can expect from this court are related to religion. The Supreme Court says 1st Amendment entitles web designer to refuse same-sex wedding work. (What could be more patently un-American than turning away business?) “Sotomayor noted a nationwide rise in anti-LGBTQ discrimination and called it ‘heartbreaking.’ ‘Sadly, it is also familiar,’ she wrote in her dissent. ‘When the civil rights and women’s rights movements sought equality in public life, some public establishments refused. Some even claimed, based on sincere religious beliefs, constitutional rights to discriminate. The brave Justices who once sat on this Court decisively rejected those claims.'” This Court isn’t that Court. Meanwhile, the website case may have been manufactured out of thin air. “In filings in the 303 Creative v. Elenis case is a supposed request for a gay wedding website—but the man named in the request says he never filed it.” The Mysterious Case of the Fake Gay Marriage Website, the Real Straight Man, and the Supreme Court. (Pro tip from someone who has worked in the web industry since there’s been one: Any website designer who refuses to build something because of gay associations is definitely a really bad website designer.)

+ Decorum Punch: Aside from the decisions handed down this week, it’s worth noting the rancor the justices aimed at one another in their opinions. Even SCOTUS isn’t immune from the divisive flame wars that have infested America.

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