Racial preferences harm minorities. Quotas—the purest form of racial preference—often disadvantage the very people they are intended to help. They are originally intended as floors. If a school has a 20% African-American quota, then the school must have at least 20%. But studies show that the floor eventually becomes a ceiling. When the mandate is 20%, then institutions do not go above that number. Such institutions end up targeting that number, taking the best-qualified applicants from that minority pool, rejecting the rest. A 20% quota may secure 20%, but it bars the possibility of 30%, 40% or 50%, even if there are enough superbly-qualified applicants from that group to merit 50% of the available positions.
So not only are such preferential measures unconstitutional, they are also harmful. It bears out the wisdom of our constitutional scheme that this country must throw open the doors of opportunity to all, and not prefer one over another.
This will be a challenge for President-elect Obama when he nominates Supreme Court justices. He has promised to nominate liberal judges such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has voted to uphold every racial-preference program reaching the Supreme Court. But the fact that he won the presidency and will now hold the power to appoint Supreme Court justices demonstrates that racial preferences are unnecessary.
Many challenges await President-elect Obama. One of those challenges will be how to represent the change Americans want when it comes to ending racial preferences.