Justice Antonin Scalia’s racism is unacceptable – Congress must censure him.

by on December 15, 2015 · 8 comments

in Civil Rights, History, Organizing, Politics

Scalia racistfrom Credo Action

On Wednesday, December 9th, during oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the case of Fisher v. Texas, Justice Antonin Scalia made a plainly racist argument (emphasis ours):

“There are – there are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less­-advanced school, a less – a slower-track school where they do well.

“One of – one of the briefs pointed out that – that most of the – most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re – that they’re being pushed ahead in – in classes that are too­­ too fast for them.“1

This blatant bigotry is unacceptable, in particular from a Supreme Court Justice. Our elected leaders need to send that message in the loudest way possible. The best way to do that is with a congressional censure.

Tell your member of Congress: Censure Justice Antonin Scalia.

Conservative justices have for years wanted to pretend that racism is in America’s past. That flawed logic was at the heart of Chief Justice John Roberts’s decision striking down critical sections of the voting rights act. Now racism is staring him in the face from across the bench.

Justice Scalia has a history of denigrating the rights of African-Americans, including contemptuously describing the Voting Rights Act as the “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”2

If Justice Scalia is not held accountable for his rhetoric — some of it blatantly racist and some of it representing coded, dog-whistle politics that sounds reasonable to some people but sends a very clear signal of hostility to minorities — that rhetoric will be validated and used to justify future discrimination. We can’t let Justice Scalia’s racism go unanswered.

There are not many sanctions that can be placed on Supreme Court Justices. They are appointed for life and never have to answer to the American people. That is why it is so critical that our elected representatives in Congress speak clearly and with a single voice to show the American people that they find racism as deplorable as we do.

The only official way for them to do this is with a formal congressional censure. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has already spoken out to denounce Scalia’s comments, calling it “deeply disturbing to hear a Supreme Court justice endorse racist ideas from the bench on the nation’s highest court” and comparing Scalia’s rhetoric to Donald Trump’s.3 It’s time for his colleagues to join him in formally holding Scalia accountable for his racism.

Tell your member of Congress: Censure Justice Antonin Scalia.

If we do not make our voices heard, a bigoted statement from one of the most powerful figures in our country will go unanswered. We cannot let that happen.


Casey Quinlan, “Scalia: Black Students Don’t Need Affirmative Action Because They Benefit From A ‘Slower Track’,” Think Progress, 12/9/2015.
Ian Milhiser and Nicole Flatow, “Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’, Think Progress, 2/27/2013.
Jordain Carney, “Reid: Scalia’s ‘racist’ comments worse than Trump,” The Hill, 12/10/2015.

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Tell your member of Congress:

“Justice Antonin Scalia’s racist claims during arguments before the United States Supreme Court are deplorable and incompatible with the values the Supreme Court is meant to uphold. Congress should make clear that racism on America’s highest court is unacceptable and censure Justice Scalia.”


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

tennyson December 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

As a lifer in higher education, I know the race card, the gender card are both used to ignore or to deny incompetence. Still, hearing Justice Scalia make this unbelievably shocking statement was, well, unbelievable. As the Controller in a state university College of Sciences I was, for years, directly involved in assisting new science faculty establish their research laboratories. I do not recall any of the young, black scientists –chemists, biologists- being from “lesser” universities. Those hired (ethnicity irrelevant) were from top universities at the heads of their respective classes.
I could digress, Scalia’s statement is so blatantly racist there is no end to the appropriate comments that could be made here, I won’t.
Justice Scalia does not need to sanctioned, he needs to be removed from the court, removed immediately.


Bearded OBcean December 16, 2015 at 9:04 am

For argument’s sake, a lesser university to UT would be Texas Tech. Or Cal State San Bernardino compared to UCLA. If you were accepted to a school like Penn for the sake of diversity without having the necessary qualifications, if you were unable to keep up with the pace or the content, how does that education benefit you as opposed to attending Temple where the coursework might be less rigorous?
If you’re pre-med at say Harvard and can’t keep up with the pace, regardless of race, isn’t there a strong likelihood that you might be discouraged from pursuing that degree if the majority of students can keep up? Conversely, if you attend Northeastern for a pre-med degree, and can keep up, isn’t there a benefit to attending a slower-track school?
Or does everything have to be racist when someone discusses something regarding race that you don’t agree with?


CliffHanger December 18, 2015 at 5:23 pm

For argument’s response: Our Bearded OBcean makes a proposition based on a false premise, that is, that there are droves of minority students bailing out of higher echelon colleges and therefore not able to pursue a career goal because they were admitted under an affirmative action program. If only they’d attended a “lesser university”, their dreams would have come true. (insert the Editor Dude’s best sneeze here). This aspect of admission and graduation rates is not borne out by data. I do not know and cannot find data that separates out the minority college athlete recruit from this admit/graduation data, but that’s an important consideration in this.

Personally, I was fortunate to attend an “elite” college. I can tell you that the ones who didn’t cut it there then were the white “legacy” admits.

Justice Scalia has shown zero evidence now or previously to support any claim that he had a desire to discuss “something regarding race” in a constructive manner. On the contrary, his choice of words (for an allegedly highly-educated Georgetown and Harvard law graduate) reveal his archaic view of the fabric of our society in 2015. I would happily see him impeached from the bench.


Bearded OBcean December 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

I’m not sure where you read droves of minority students bailing out of higher echelon schools in my comment. My comment spoke more broadly to anyone who can’t keep up in an upper-tiered schools. You’re responding to an argument that wasn’t made or never met anyone who couldn’t hack it in one college, but could at another with fewer expectations. It happens…everywhere. My college roommate couldn’t make it in business, transferred somewhere else where the course work/program/professors were less rigorous, and ended up in secondary education. Isn’t it entirely possible that he could have stayed in business and possibly excelled if he matched his talent with the program? It’s called mismatch theory. And just because you and the editor sneeze at it, doesn’t make it any less viable.
Anyway, what’s more important for a university: diversity of skin color, diversity of thought, or diversity of class?


Colin December 19, 2015 at 2:41 pm

I’m not sure there’s any real variable like “slower track” or “slower pace” schools. A competent program at a credible institution is just that, and these do abound. So, you might just be repeating one of Scalia’s canards. Now, whether or not a student has performed well enough in prior phases of education in order to compete for a spot in programs taught by some of the very best or most recognized performers at the most hallowed institutions, is a real variable. But this is an entirely different value or variable than Scalia’s fiction of a “slower track”. And because there’s actually no such thing suggests the real reason he holds the notion, consciously or not. Either way is unjustifiable.


Colin December 24, 2015 at 2:05 pm

e.g., I’d be really surprised if Northeastern faculty would agree their pre-med track was “slower track” or less demanding than Harvard’s.


RB December 16, 2015 at 9:28 am

There is an issue here for all students, independent of race. Most top ranked schools are ranked due to endowment and research funding. Most of the top ranked schools hire professors based upon research funding not teaching ability. Any student, independent of race, would benefit from a school focused on undergraduate education, not federal research dollars.


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