Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Careful what you wish forFrom the Houston Chronicle, but similar stories can be found all over:
A coalition of black leaders is asking Houstonians to support an upcoming civil rights march on Washington, protesting what they call efforts to roll back affirmative action policies.This raises two questions in my mind.
(1) Do these people really think that this is an effective tactic? For influencing Congress or the president, perhaps, although I suspect that on this issue, minds are already made up. But for influencing the Supreme Court? I'm not naive enough to think that the justices live in ivory towers ("I don't know If the Constitution follows the flag, but the Supreme Court follows the election returns."), but they also don't have to stand for re-election. By design, they're insulated from the political winds.
Moreover, it's not as if the march adds new information into the political debate; this isn't a hot new topic like war in Iraq. They're deciding an old issue, affirmative action, about which the passionate views of each side are well known and firmly established. With regard to Iraq, an observer might react to a march on Washington by saying, "Gosh, I didn't realize so many people felt so strongly about this, and I didn't realize the wide variety of opponents." But in the affirmative action debate, I think everybody is pretty clear on who supports, who opposes, and how deep the feelings are on each side. So how useful is this march really going to be?
(2) Would these marchers want a Supreme Court that made decisions based not on the law, but on public demonstrations? Certainly many decisions involving civil rights, including the crucial Brown vs. Board of Education, would never have been made at the time they were if they were put up to popular vote. Not that Brown is going to be repealed anytime soon, of course, but certainly there are other decisions that minorities care about that are less popular. And so you would think that a political minority would be especially sensitive about sending the message that courts should make decisions based on popularity of the resulting policies.
Comments: Post a Comment