Case could heighten pressure on President Biden to deliver on racial-equity agenda
The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will reconsider whether colleges and universities can use race as a factor in admissions.
The justices took up a pair of challenges to affirmative action policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Both broadly allege that the schools discriminate against Asian and white applicants to admit a preferred number of black and Hispanic students. The plaintiffs’ group behind both cases, Students for Fair Admissions, is urging the High Court to scuttle its affirmative action precedents and ban race-conscious admissions.
“Both the Pew Research Center and Gallup have released surveys which indicate that nearly 75 percent of Americans of all races do not believe race or ethnicity should be a factor in college admissions,” said Students for Fair Admissions president Ed Blum. “In a multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation like ours, the college admissions bar cannot be raised for some races and ethnic groups but lowered for others.”
A victory for the plaintiffs would heighten pressure on President Joe Biden to deliver on his racial-equity agenda. As a candidate, he promised sweeping reforms on voting rights and policing, but a year of legislation on both topics is languishing in Congress with little prospect of success. And as Biden has struggled to convince lawmakers to support him, he faces an uphill battle in Monday’s cases before the right-leaning Court.
The plaintiffs have compiled evidence suggesting bias against Asians in admissions. At Harvard, admissions personnel rank students on a numerical scale of four different criteria: academics, athletics, extracurriculars, and a personal rating. Though Asian applicants exceed or are competitive with all racial groups in the first three domains, their personal scores are inexplicably lower than all other racial groups.
Students for Fair Admissions says those low scores reflect “model minority” bias. Asian applicants, they say, are victims of stereotypes that pigeonhole them as highly intelligent but boring and shy. In the evidence-gathering phase of the case, the plaintiffs obtained internal memos from Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research that flagged the disparate scoring outcomes, but the reports did not lead to any policy changes. The plaintiffs also note admissions rates by racial group hold steady over time.
“This manifest steadiness in the racial composition of successive admitted classes speaks for itself,” the petition reads.
In the UNC case, Students for Fair Admissions obtained instant messages traded among admissions officers that show staff speaking crudely about race.
In one representative exchange, an admissions officer alerted a colleague to an applicant with a 2400 SAT score and top marks in Advanced Placement courses. The second officer asked whether the applicant was “brown.” “Heck no. Asian,” the first officer replied. “Of course,” said the second officer. “Still impressive.”
Monday’s news is unwelcome for progressives, who are already bracing for setbacks on abortion and gun rights this term. In their judgment, it’s another signal that the right-leaning Court will be an active force in politics, rather than a passive, reactive institution.
“The goal of these suits—to end the consideration of race in college admissions—is extreme, ignores the history of race discrimination, and threatens diversity and inclusion on campuses,” said Sarah Hinger, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s racial justice program.
The Biden administration urged the justices to steer clear of Monday’s cases. They emphasized that the government’s personnel goals are tied to race-conscious admissions at the nation’s top colleges. Biden has prioritized minority appointments across the government, even as a handful of Democrats pan the dearth of Asian appointees in the cabinet and White House senior staff.
“Among other things, the government has a vital interest in drawing its personnel—many of whom will eventually become its civilian and military leaders—from a well-qualified and diverse pool of university and service academy graduates,” the brief reads.
The administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar, received a waiver from ethics officials to participate in the case, even though she is a former Harvard employee. A watchdog group, Protect the Public’s Trust, is pressing the administration for information related to the waiver.
The plaintiffs emphasize that race-conscious policies aren’t necessary to make sure disadvantaged students get a fair shot at admission. Eliminating legacy admissions, awarding preferences by zip code, and shoring up community college transfers will keep campuses open to all comers, the plaintiffs say.
There’s a strategic bonus to simultaneously attacking Harvard and UNC’s practices. UNC is a public school, so the plaintiffs can attack its program on statutory and constitutional grounds. Harvard is a private institution, though it is bound by federal anti-discrimination laws because it accepts tax dollars each year.
It’s most likely that the appeals will be heard during the Court’s next term, which begins in October. But it’s plausible that the cases could be scheduled for this term’s last argument session, which begins in April.
The confirmation of then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime appointment on the United States Supreme Court has been a long time coming. All told, nights and weekends included, it’s been, give or take a day, about 33 years.
In 1987, when Justice Lewis Powell announced his resignation from the high court, the Democrats went to war. They made federal judicial confirmations—hitherto staid, formal and collegial affairs—into battle royales.
The opening shots were fired by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who took to the Senate floor to assault the character of the man chosen as Powell’s replacement: Judge Robert Bork, a former U.S. solicitor general and distinguished professor of law at Yale.
Thus, the judicial nomination process was forever changed. Ever since, each party has blamed the other for starting it all. In reality, most of the blame lies with the Democrats, who, after the politics of personal destruction proved so effective against Bork, have repeatedly used smears, insinuations and arguments about character to try to keep conservative originalists off the federal bench. Sometimes, when Democrats controlled the Senate, they wouldn’t give Republican nominees the courtesy of even a hearing. Contrary to what you’ve heard, it didn’t start with Merrick Garland—ask Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen or any of the other George W. Bush judicial picks whose nominations to the various appellate courts were held up or blocked completely due to partisan concerns.
Each time the battle over the courts escalated, it was Democrats who almost always drew first blood. It was Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who made it possible to force lower court confirmations through with 51 votes, rather than 60, and who used that power to stack the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—second in influence only to the U.S. Supreme Court—with appointments made by President Barack Obama.
Now, over the screams, complaints, wailing and gnashing of teeth from progressives who fear what is in store for their agenda, Judge Amy Coney Barrett has become Justice Amy Coney Barrett, thanks in no small part to the way these same opponents rigged the system to operate in their favor. There’s some justice in that.
Everything about her nomination and confirmation was legal, fair and according to the rules as they now are—thanks to Kennedy, Reid and others who corrupted the process. Fortunately for them, Justice Barrett—while she provides the crucial fifth vote to establish something of an originalist majority, as well as being the sixth vote for a center-right one—has not taken her new post with the intention of rewriting the Constitution according to her personal values.
She made that clear after she took her oath of office, saying:
“It is the job of a senator to pursue her policy preferences. In fact, it would be a dereliction of duty for her to put policy goals aside. By contrast, it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give into them. Federal judges don’t stand for election. Thus, they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people. This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct among the three branches of government.”
The Democrats still intend to pack the high court, if they are able to do so. If able, they will attempt to add enough justices to allow the court to make policy for a generation or more. They will find within the Constitution, no doubt, the rights to health care, free public education, taxpayer-funded abortion on-demand, strict regulation and limitation of the private ownership of firearms, compulsion of workers to join unions and whatever else is on their political agenda that doesn’t pass muster with the voters. Instead of pausing, they’ll push on through, eliminating the restrictions on government and expanding its reach. If they succeed.
If they don’t succeed, America finally has the chance to put part of the genie back in the bottle, and to restore to the democratic process the importance of the individual that the reliance on the courts as the last word on everything has increasingly obscured. The elevation of Justice Barrett gives us one more shot at getting it right. Let’s hope, for all our sakes, that the court seizes the opportunity.
Organization has history of singling out Jewish state, critics say
The World Health Organization’s decision-making body has a history of singling out Israel for criticism, fueling concerns of bias as the United Nations organization faces criticism of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The World Health Assembly, WHO’s policymaking body, has only one item on its agenda directed at a specific country—Israel—according to research by Human Rights Voices (HRV) and the Touro Human Rights Institute, which monitor bias at the U.N.
Agenda items sponsored by WHO have targeted Israel for criticism since at least 2000. Of all the reports produced each year for the World Health Assembly on the health of humankind, only one report targets a specific state—again, Israel.
WHO’s focus on Israel is contributing to mounting concerns about the organization’s bias and mismanagement, particularly in light of accusations the agency helped China obfuscate the number of deaths and illnesses from coronavirus.
The Touro Institute views this as a “pattern of highly selective handling of U.N. member states, beginning with WHO’s unique singling out and condemnation of Israel.”
The Trump administration signaled on Friday it is likely to cut U.S. funding to WHO over what it says is a botched response to the coronavirus pandemic. The administration pointed to multiple statements by WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who goes by Dr. Tedros though he is not a medical doctor, praising China as the virus spread across the globe.
The organization’s bias against Israel could factor in to any decision made this week by the Trump administration, which has often criticized the U.N. and its decision-making bodies for unjust bias against the Jewish state.
For years, WHO’s World Health Assembly has had just one country-specific issue on its agenda: “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.” This includes the most recent agenda, which is dated April 6 and slated for consideration at its upcoming meeting scheduled to take place from May 17 to 21.
While the assembly and WHO discuss a range of health concerns across the globe, only Israel is specifically named and condemned in the annual decisions adopted by the agency, according to HRV’s research.
Responding to criticism last week, Tedros called on the United States and others to “please quarantine politicizing COVID.”
“We should work across party lines, across religious lines. We shouldn’t waste time pointing fingers,” Tedros said in a statement.
“The WHO president’s complaint about politicization at the WHO takes the American public for fools,” Anne Bayefsky, HRV’s president and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told the Washington Free Beacon. “The WHO was (and still is) a politicized body long before COVID-19.”
“Instead of focusing on governments responsible for the world’s real health crises, like the vast array of U.N. bodies, the World Health Assembly of the WHO focused its only country-specific decisions and state-specific targeted reports on Israel—at the behest of countries with truly appalling health records,” Bayefsky said. “The United States has voted against these one-sided statements and routinely been overruled. The current situation is a stark example of how the U.N.’s pathological obsession with Israel is a global pathology that harms us all.”
WHO adopted a report on May 24, 2019, singling out “health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.” It was the only assembly report that year singling out a particular state.
WHO’s measures sought to criticize Israel for health conditions in the Golan Heights, contested territory on Israel’s northern border that has seen an influx refugees seeking medical care from Israeli doctors.
The United States and several other Western allies voted against the measures.
Pennsylvania's Guy Reschenthaler says email from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirms 'blatant bias'
Republican congressman Guy Reschenthaler says he was inadvertently given a window into the “blatant bias” in the newsroom at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette through an email sent to his staff by one of the paper’s editors.
A staffer for Reschenthaler, a first-term congressman who represents the Pittsburgh area, received the email from news desk editor Steven Sybert in reply to a press release praising the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule. Sybert, likely not intentionally, responded to the staffer in all capital letters, writing: “VOTE HIM OUT IN 2 YEARS!”
It’s unclear whether Sybert was referring to Trump or Reschenthaler, but the congressman says the email, shared by his office with the Washington Free Beacon, helped confirm his suspicions of bias.
“Such blatant bias in the newsroom of a major regional newspaper is extremely disappointing, but not at all surprising,” Reschenthaler said.
“This email gives the public an unintended window into the biases that influence much of the news reporting in the mainstream media,” he said. “What we have suspected all along, this email has confirmed in their own words.”
Screenshot of email sent by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor
Reschenthaler also said the “incident demonstrates just how out of touch reporters and editors have become with the people and the regions they are covering.”
“The mainstream media need to come down from their ivory tower, talk to real people, review their past reporting, and simply admit they are no longer a neutral arbiter of the facts,” Reschenthaler said.
Sybert did not respond to an inquiry into whether the email was sent to Reschenthaler’s office by mistake and, if so, whether the intended recipient was within the Post-Gazette.
Reschenthaler was easily elected in 2018, defeating his Democratic opponent in the newly drawn 14th Congressional District by more than 15 percentage points. He previously represented the area in the state legislature.
Reschenthaler praised Trump in the press release for “putting a stop to the Obama-era war on coal.”
“I am grateful to President Trump for his continued commitment to Pennsylvania coal jobs and the communities they support,” he said in the statement.
We can remember when the left used to accuse conservatives of being prudish censors. Now it’s the left that appears determined to censor speech it doesn’t like. And they appear to have three incredibly powerful allies in their quest: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The CEO’s of those tech giants — Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Susan Wojcicki — routinely describe their services as neutral platforms, fiercely committed to openness and free expression.
“Twitter stands for freedom of expression,” Dorsey once declared. Twitter’s general manager in the U.K. once called it “the free speech wing of the free speech party.”
YouTube parent Google claims that “the flow of ideas and open access to information on the web helps communities grow and nations prosper.”
Zuckerberg told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that Facebook is “a platform for all ideas.” Continue reading
by Grace Carr • The Daily Caller
An Iowa college’s student government rejected a conservative club’s application to operate because the organization allegedly didn’t conform to the school’s mission.
After Wartburg College’s prospective Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter applied for official club status, the group was denied the right to operate on campus. Founded in 2012, TPUSA is a non-profit organization that seeks to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government, according to the national group’s website.
“The Student Senate body were concerned that the values of Turning Point, as evidenced by expressed tactics, were not in line with the values of Wartburg College,” Daniel Kittle said, reported Campus Reform on Friday.
Kittle wrote in an email to members of the club that he would be happy to work with students to advance a “new student organization that supports their agenda to increase conservative dialogue.”
by George Landrith
At the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, the president revealed a sad truth – the mainstream media actively works to advance his political career. He quipped that his campaign manager “David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.”
In deed, the mainstream media has been diligently advancing Obama’s political career since at least 2008. And the media’s active participation in the Benghazi cover-up is proof positive of the media’s deep and profound dishonesty. Continue reading
For years, media bias has been hotly debated. Let me settle this here and now. The mainstream media is not biased. Bias implies some level of subtly in the prejudice. There is nothing subtle about the media’s blatant partiality which actually reaches the level of dishonest propaganda.
There is an unmistakeable trend in play – some evil and/or demented person kills and injures a large number of innocent people and the extreme Left and the “mainstream” media (but I repeat myself) blame conservatives for the evil-doer’s actions. This is an almost reflexive reaction for the media and the Left. Continue reading
Over my career, I’ve tended to resist press bashing. Part of the reason for that may be that there are plenty of journalists whose work I respect and whom I’ve come to admire. But I must say that the way the press as an institution covered the 2012 presidential election was in many respects depressing—and in some respects its biases have rarely been more fully on display.
There are a dozen examples I could cite, but let me simply focus on one: The September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. We witnessed a massive failure at three different stages. Continue reading
The Obama administration needs to level with the country about why it made its decisions.
by David Ignatius
October 30, 2012
The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi has become a political football in the presidential campaign, with all the grandstanding and misinformation that entails. But Fox News has raised questions about the attack that deserve a clearer answer from the Obama administration.
Fox’s Jennifer Griffin reported Friday that CIA officers in Benghazi had been told to “stand down” when they wanted to deploy from their base at the annex to repel the attack on the consulate, about a mile away. Fox also reported that the officers requested military support when the annex came under fire that night but that their request had been denied. Continue reading
You got that right, Mr. President, you might even say it is damn inconvenient.
by George Landrith
President Barack Obama, during an interview on the Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart responded to a question about his inaccurate and even misleading communications after the Benghazi attack, by saying: “If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.” Not optimal? Really? Let’s review a few other things that are “not optimal.” Continue reading
If you want more time to get your message out in debates, it’s good to be a Democrat. According to the CNN debate clock, President Obama spoke at greater length than Mitt Romney during both debates, as did Vice President Biden during his debate with Paul Ryan. In the first debate, Obama spoke for 3 minutes, 14 seconds more than Romney — which means he got 8 percent more talking time than Romney. In last night’s debate, Obama spoke for 4 minutes and 18 seconds longer than Romney, giving him 11 percent more talking time. During the vice presidential debate, the gap wasn’t as wide: Biden spoke for 1 minute, 22 seconds more than Ryan. Still, that gave Biden 3 percent more speaking time than Ryan. Continue reading
The State Department has released a transcript of a briefing that two high-ranking State Department officials gave to a number of reporters via conference call on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 — the night before the Congressional hearings on the Benghazi cover-up.
While it is impossible to know exactly what motivated the conference call, it may be part of the deepening and escalating conflict between President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. From day one, Obama and Biden have tried to avoid political responsibility for the attack on the American consulate that resulted in the death of four American diplomats. Obama lied from the first moment he opened his mouth about the attack. Initially, Clinton was cooperative in the lies. Continue reading
ABC News scrambles to downplay Obama’s attendance at VP debate moderator’s wedding
by Josh Peterson
President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review. Continue reading