Posted on | April 23, 2014 | 47 Comments
The six justices who voted to reverse the Sixth Circuit and let the Michigan amendment stand split 3-2-1 on the grounds for doing so. The result is a clear outcome but a doctrinal muddle. We thought it would be amusing and enlightening to go through the four main opinions in descending order of clarity.
Clearest of all is Justice Antonin Scalia’s concurrence in the judgment, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. “It has come to this,” Scalia begins portentously. “Called upon to explore the jurisprudential twilight zone between two errant lines of precedent, we confront a frighteningly bizarre question: Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbid what its text plainly requires?”
Scalia and Thomas’s view, thus far joined by no other sitting justice, is that racial discrimination in public-university admissions is flatly unconstitutional. . . .
Then there’s the [Obama-appointed Justice Sandra] Sotomayor dissent, which begins as follows: “We are fortunate to live in a democratic society. But . . .” An empty piety, followed by an equivocation, followed by a total of 58 pages — you know this is going to be a tough slog. . . .