Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Antonin Scalia -- aka Donald Trump in a robe -- is holding forth again:
In the oral arguments Wednesday for a Supreme Court affirmative action case, Justice Antonin Scalia -- a well known critic of affirmative action -- suggested that the policy was hurting minority students by sending them to schools too academically challenging for them.
Here's what Scalia said:

As I've mentioned a number of times on this blog, I'm the white child of two high school graduates who made it to the Ivies and emerged with a sheepskin. I'd gone to a selective public school in the city (not the suburbs) of Boston -- admission was based on a standardized test. A number of my friends from high school also made it to the Ivies or to similarly exclusive institutions.

But a lot of my friends dropped out short of graduating. And I made it through only because my default response to social anxiety is to withdraw and burrow, which made my college years lonely and miserable but left me a lot of time to get the coursework done.

My friends who didn't make it through weren't stupid. They were bright and well read. One friend in particular was one of the best-read people I've ever known, in both literature and history. He didn't even get through sophomore year.

Some of my friends' parents had attended college, but none had attended elite colleges. A lot of us were doing okay economically, but there were differences between us and the well-educated suburban middle class. We didn't have models in our families and neighborhoods for how to navigate the world we were in. Yes, we'd done fine at a relatively demanding high school, but at college the work was harder and the distractions were greater. When things went wrong, we didn't have people we could talk to who understood what was happening to us.

What I'm saying is that we felt some alienation just being one or two rungs below our classmates -- and this is with some money and white skin. Throw in race, and perhaps much greater poverty, and I've always assumed the feeling of disorientation would be everything my friends and I experienced, but much worse.

I don't know if what I've written here tracks with empirical studies. I'm just writing about what I know. The experience has left me thinking that people who arrive at elite schools from outside the usual applicant pool need more help and a lot more understanding -- and when they fail, Judge Scalia, it's not necessarily because they're "in classes that are too fast for them."


mlbxxxxxx said...

They are letting it all hang out, lately. I guess Trump's setting the pace. It's kind of awe inspiring. Glad there's no more racism.

Missy Vixen said...

I don't know of any empirical evidence, but I'm quite sure that what you've written is spot on.

Steve M. said...


Missy Vixen said...

I would also like to point out that this situation is by design of men like Scalia. On the local level, they starve the minority schools of money, teachers and educational opportunity to ensure that those who manage to graduate cannot compete with their better educated contemporaries.

Victor said...

There wasa point in time, when Scalia's people were only barely a notch above African- Americans on the labor/education totem-pole.
And the same things were said before, aboUt Irish, Orientals, Jews, etc., ... and the later Germans, Scandinavians, Slavs, etc.

He needs to go!
At this point, he's a conservative troll on the SCOTUS!

Yastreblyansky said...

Everything you say is valid, but the empirical fact is that the research Scalia is referring to--amicus brief by Richard Sander recapping his book Mismatch : How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It--is biased, bogus science, as you can read in detail in William Kidder's review of the book in the Los Angeles Review of Books. In fact minority students particularly benefit from attending elite schools:
"attending a more selective college or university is associated with net gains in African Americans’ and Latinos’ college graduation rates. Unlike the claims made in Mismatch, this conclusion is strengthened by the convergence of findings from different investigators using multiple data sets and a range of analytical methods" and follow the link if you want to see the references.

Boudica said...

Since Ms. Fischer wasn't in the top ten percent of her class, why doesn't Scalia think she was better served at a lesser institution?

Unknown said...

Boudica, Justice Scalia is perfectly well aware of how conservative groups pick their 'representative plainiffs'.

Scalia served on planning and steering committees with the Federalist Society and spoke at conservative law prof conferences where this sort of thing was worked out and critiqued. As we've come to know, he and his fellow repressives on the SCOTUS (I fail to see how Scalia's truly worse than Alito or Thomas in particular; it's just that neither of those two fans of torturing defenseless creatures is by nature a sputtering opinionated puffed up narcissistic attention lusting perpetually puerile bullfrog and/or has critically more effective personal restraint strategies.)

Wanna know how good an attorney Scalia really was? After Nixon had resigned & Ford was sworn in, Ford followed Nixon in deliberating avoiding consulting with the Office of Legal Counsel at the USDoJ on the question of who 'owned' the by-then notorious Oval Office tapes: Nixon personally, the Nixon administration as an entity, Congress, the federal government expressed thru the national historical archive. Instead, Ford followed the advice of his Chief of Staff - some young ambitious whippersnapper named Dick Cheney - to issue a 'presidential directive' for an "outside, independent" legal ruling on the matter - which just 'happened' to go to Scalia.

Cheney and Scalia already knew each other thru Cheney's WDC conservative attorney friends, including in particular then SCOTUS CJ Burger and later SCOTUS CJ Rehnquist. Scalia was essentially a Cheney nominee, and the same can be said as well for Alito. THAT IS: the only two Sicialian-Italian American justices born and raised in the state most clearly identified with the American Mafia, New Jersey, are both on the SCOTUS primarily thru the choice, sponsorship, promotion and lobbying of Dick Cheney. Kind of says it all, right?

Boudica said...

Since Ms. Fischer wasn't in the top ten percent of her class, why doesn't Scalia think she was better served at a lesser institution?