The U.S. Supreme Court had a busy week last week, handing down some landmark decisions that help pave the way to make legalizing gay marriage easier, a strange non-decision on affirmative action and another giving states more rights when it comes to voter registration.
For me, one of the most interesting cases of this session was Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.
A brave young girl, Abigail Fisher, sued the University of Texas after she was rejected by the school in 2008 primarily because she is white. The school has policies to consider race as one of many factors for entrance. Despite Fisher being more qualified than some of the minority applicants when it came to test scores, community leadership and service – she was rejected.
With a conservative majority, it appeared there may be the votes to strike down affirmative action. However, in a 7-1 ruling, the high court said the case needs more work.
Citing clear directions given in three previous affirmative action cases dating back as much as 35 years, the justices said the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not examine UT’s admissions policies, which include race as a factor, hard enough.
I found this non-decision frustrating. We are coming to a point where colleges who are rejecting the more-qualified students in favor of minorities are wrong.
While there are still issues concerning discrimination, we have made strides. We have an African American president. It is time that the work, test scores and community service accomplishments speak for themselves, and getting extra points for being African American or Hispanic is unfair.
The nation’s highest court also caused a lot of controversy last week when they struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and sent another case dealing with Proposition 8 in California back to the lower courts, which means gay marriage in our neighboring state is moving forward.
I have said it before, gay marriage should be legalized nationwide, and we should stop spending so much money in the court system to fight it.
Former presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann was quick to condemn the Supreme Court’s decision, saying they are not on the same level as God. Well, neither is Michelle Bachman. Stop making this such a controversial issue. If you don’t agree with gay marriage then don’t attend one of the weddings, don’t teach your kids to believe in it, but respect that there are those who disagree with you and are doing it.
Striking down DOMA is probably going to have the most ramifications as the government sorts out who gets benefits and who doesn’t moving forward. Taking away the argument that marriage can only be between a man and a woman can prove difficult in the days and months to come, but it is a step in the right direction.
In another decision, the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-4 vote, freeing nine states to change their election laws without advance federal approval.
Section 5 of the 1965 law gives federal authorities open-ended oversight of states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in the covered states must be pre-cleared with Washington.
While President Obama’s administration was disappointed in the court’s ruling, it is clear that his being elected in two separate elections shows the law is no longer needed.
When it comes to this issue, the court got it right.
Arizona is one of the states that had been under Section 5 of the 1965 law, along with Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.