MSNBC's Alterman posts responses to Yours Truly's comments from yesterday. This is exciting!
Name: WilliamInteresting point. And a valid one. We should be helping out the poor, regardless of skin color. And certainly, affirmative action could be helping out wealthy African-Americans. Although, I'd be interested in seeing a study that shows this phenomenon. I can't imagine that wealthy African Americans are in a position to take advantage of affirmative action. If they're wealthy, they're not looking for an affirmative action aided job, no?
Hometown: Lansing, MI
...Second, to Adam from New York, New York; while I agree that affirmative action is a redress for past wrongs, how is it a proper redress when some of whom it benefits are affluent African Americans? Does that help those that need it? Rather, shouldn't any affirmative action be based upon the relative economic standing of the person, rather then their skin color? For example, when and if Tiger Woods has a child, that child may be just as eligible for affirmative action as an African American child from the inner city. Do we think that Tiger's future child needs affirmative action?
Name: BradAs far as a constitutional basis for affirmative action goes, I look at Article IV, Section II, which states, "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States." This article of the constitution was amended by the 13th amendment, ending slavery. Meaning, that the article, in general, grants equal rights to all citizens, under the law. However, it is important to note the language here. "Privileges" is a key word. As viewed in the light of the Civil Rights Act and the 14th amendment, those privileges are more broadly defined. Congress cannot make a law denying these equal rights. The 14th amendment, furthermore, adds "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"-- the infamous "equal protection" clause. If societal and economic forces in America force an imbalance of rights, then the affected citizens are denied their "entitlement" granted by Article IV, Section II. Doing nothing to remedy this is akin to not enforcing the law... in other words, not "protecting" all citizens equally-- breaking the 14th Amendment. The question up for discussion is, does the law merely bind the government to creating the opportunity for equality, or does the law give the government the responsibility to create (or "protect") equality? So I agree that it's up for constitutional debate. But don't say there's no, or little basis, which is what Brad originally implied. The constitution is not deep, in fact, it's pretty vague (I would argue, on purpose). It's up to the courts, the lawmakers, and the people to define the specifics the constitution doesn't get into. (Spoken like a true liberal)
Your respondent Adam insists that affirmative action is necessary to overcome the social and economic disparity caused by decades of slavery. While I agree with Adam that there are serious social issues that give rise to the concept of affirmative action, I was attempting to direct the argument to the fact that the constitutional basis of it is flawed, or at least worthy of serious debate. The question of constitutionality cannot be simply dismissed because there are deep-seated social issues involved. A small point of order, I do not support the party of Strom Thurmond, nor do I support the party of Robert Byrd. Conservative only equates with Republicans in the minds of ideologues (on both sides) who can't or won't accept independent thought. I suggest Adam do a little research on who filibustered a great deal of the civil rights legislation during and before the movement. It might be eye-opening.
As for the Strom Thurmond thing, yeah, it was a cheap dig. We got bigots on our side too. Sorry Brad.