Thomas Sowell Defends Scalia On Affirmative Action

Renowned American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author Thomas Sowell has come out in defense of Justice Scalia’s remarks on race-based college admissions.

Sowell writes:

Among the many sad signs of our time are the current political and media attacks on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for speaking the plain truth on a subject where lies have been the norm for years.

The case before the High Court is whether the use of race as a basis for admitting students to the University of Texas at Austin is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s requirement for government institutions to provide “equal protection of the laws” to all.

Affirmative action is supposed to be a benefit to black and other minority students admitted with lower academic qualifications than some white students who are rejected.

But Justice Scalia questioned whether being admitted to an institution geared to students with higher-powered academic records was a real benefit.

Despite much media spin, the issue is not whether blacks in general should be admitted to higher ranked or lower ranked institutions.

The issue is whether a given black student, with given academic qualifications, should be admitted to a college or university where he would not be admitted if he were white.

Much empirical research over the years has confirmed Justice Scalia’s concern that admitting black students to institutions for which their academic preparation is not sufficient can be making them worse off instead of better off.


Sowell rightly notes that Scalia’s remarks have been misunderstood and that the Supreme Court Justice remarks contained valuable insight.

Justice Scalia was not talking about sending black students to substandard colleges and universities to get an inferior education. You may in fact get a much better education at an institution that teaches at a pace that you can handle and master. In later life, no one is going to care how fast you learned something, so long as you know it.

Mismatching students with educational institutions is a formula for needless failures.

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