My Online Prose Portfolio

"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

June 24, 2003

Power-Hungry High Court Endorses Discrimination

The wise, impartial, and humble Supreme Court on Monday established a novel legal tenant, one that may haunt America for decades: Racial discrimination in pursuit of diversity is no vice, and equal treatment in pursuit of opportunity for all is no virtue.

By a 5-4 vote, the court approved the admissions policy at the University of Michigan's Law School, which discriminates against whites and Asian-Americans to engineer a proper proportion of currently in-vogue minority groups: African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

And don't think all African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans benefit. Only those whose applications are approved while the school needs members of those groups benefit. Applications by minorities that are reviewed after the law school hits "critical mass" are rejected as the school then selects whatever white and Asian slots are left. That's one dirty little secret of affirmative action that its supporters will never admit. 

The school denied it used quotas, but Hillary Clinton's favorite judge William Rehnquist saw right through that falsehood. In his dissent, he called the law school's policy "a naked effort to achieve racial balancing." He points out that between 1995 and 2000, the school admitted between 13 and 19 Native Americans, between 91 and 108 African Americans, and between 47 and 56 Hispanics. Why, he asks, is it necessary to admit only 19 Native Americans to reach "critical mass" and a relatively whopping 108 African Americans? Why the disparity?

Rehnquist offers more statistics to prove his case. The percentage of admitted minority applicants mirrors very closely the percentage of the pool of applicants belonging to the preferred minority groups, much too closely to be mere coincidence. For example, in 1995, 9.7 percent of applicants were African-American and 9.4 percent of admitted applicants were African-American. In 1998, 4.2 percent of applicants were Hispanic and exactly 4.2 percent of admitted applicants were Hispanic. In 2000, 1.0 percent of applicants were Native American and 1.1 percent of admitted applicants were Native American. 

Rehnquist concludes the obvious: 

The Law School has offered no explanation for its actual admissions practices and, unexplained, we are bound to conclude that the Law School has managed its admissions program, not to achieve "critical mass," but to extend offers of admission to members of selected minority groups in proportion to their statistical representation in the applicant pool. But this is precisely the type of racial balancing that the Court itself calls "patently unconstitutional."

So the majority of the Supreme Court knowingly approved a blatant and illegal quota system for the sake of diversity. Yes, the court rejected the undergraduate admissions policy, but one must conclude it did so only because the policy wasn't sneaky enough. Few Americans will ever be aware of the numbers Rehnquist cites, and will instead get the impression that the law school just harmlessly helps a few minorities without discriminating against anyone else or running a quota farm. 

In a truly Orwellian moment, Justice Ginsburg writes in her concurring opinion that "it is well documented that conscious and unconscious race bias, even rank discrimination based on race, remain alive in our land, impeding realization of our highest values and ideals."

Justice Ginsburg is so so blinded by her ideological fervor and imagined purity that she fails to see that she herself has just approved and legalized such rank discrimination. 

But there's another odious aspect to this ruling. In her majority opinion, Arizona's own Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that 

We have long recognized that, given the important purpose of public education and the expansive freedoms of speech and thought associated with the university environment, universities occupy a special niche in our constitutional tradition ... Our conclusion that the (University of Michigan) Law School has a compelling interest in a diverse student body is informed by our view that attaining a diverse student body is at the heart of the Law School's proper institutional mission.

One would think that a quality education would be the "heart" of any school's "proper institutional mission." But not Sandra Day. A school must now be diverse. In fact, diversity is now a "compelling state interest," and race discrimination is permitted to achieve that interest.

But I have a question. Who decided diversity was a compelling state interest? Why, Sandra Day and her minions on the Court. Does the Supreme Court have the authority to decide what is and isn't a compelling state interest? Perhaps the executive branch has a say in that? Or maybe the Legislative branch, made up of the people's representatives, should have a role in deciding what that compelling state interest should be. 

Who shredded the Constitution and gave the nine unelected potentates on the Supreme Court the power to decide for the entire country what its compelling interests are? 

Which is more galling: the Court's supreme arrogance or unabashed power grab?

This decision demonstrates that the Constitution of the United States is dead. Oh, the government will follow its benign rules and procedures, like lifetime appointments for federal judges and two-year terms for representatives, but as a document that determines and limits the powers of the federal government, the Constitution is toast. The Supreme Court can rule however way it likes, regardless of what the Constitution says, and regardless of its long-forgotten role as guardian of the Constitution. The President and Congress can propose a prescription drug benefit, despite any constitutional authority granting the government to run a pharmacy. On and on it goes.

The tyranny of the Supreme Court must be checked. If our elected representatives and President won't do it, then it's up to us to do it ourselves. 

Arrest Comes to the Bishop

Phoenix Bishop Thomas O'Brien has now become an answer to a future trivia question: Who was the first bishop to be arrested and charged with a felony in the United States of America?

Those who read my earlier muse about O'Brien's unprecedented immunity deal will not be surprised. The bishop admitted shuttling priests accused of sexual misconduct to other parishes without alerting parish officials, and had to sign the agreement to avoid testifying in front of a grand jury and possibly facing felony charges of obstruction of justice.

But that's not why he was arrested. On Saturday night, June 14, a car registered to the diocese that only O'Brien drives struck and killed one Jim L. Reed, who was crossing a Phoenix street. That car did not stop. Another car rolled over Reed right afterward, and that car and driver have not been located. But a witness saw the first car strike Reed, and he followed the car and copied the license plate. Police tracked the car to the diocese and discovered it was used solely by O'Brien.

Officers arrived at O'Brien's home Monday morning. The car's front windshield was smashed on the right side. O'Brien acknowledged he was the car's only driver and was driving in the vicinity of the hit-and-run accident and thought he had struck a dog or cat, or had been hit by a rock. Police didn't buy his story and they took him downtown and booked him. Later that evening, O'Brien faced the judge and was released on bail, after having his passport removed and being denied a request to attend a church conference in St. Louis.

O'Brien was already reeling from the immunity agreement. His public relations campaign gained little traction as most of the Valley turned against him. His conduct in this hit-and-run accident confirms many people's suspicions that this man is morally suspect.

For drivers, hitting a pedestrian is a traumatic experience, even when it's not the driver's fault. The guilt and anguish are overwhelming. Most drivers stop and offer what assistance they can. Some continue driving, perhaps in a state of shock. Of those who continue driving, some later realize they've made a huge mistake and turned themselves in to accept the consequences. Some don't care what they've done and do their best to ignore it or pretend it didn't happen by trying to get the car's damage repaired. The law is not kind to these people, because they have ducked their responsibilities to their fellow human beings.

O'Brien turned out to be one of those people. He did not turn himself in that night or the next day. He spent Father's Day at a pool party at his sister's house while the wife, children, and family grieved. After being notified on Sunday that police were looking for a diocese car involved in a hit-and-run, he still did not turn himself in. Instead, on Monday morning, he arranged to have his car fixed. Luckily, police officers showed up before he could cover up his crime.

Most gallingly, O'Brien ignored his sacred duty as a priest to administer last rites and left a man dying in the street. That is inexcusable and reprehensible. If he had stopped, odds are he would not have been cited - Reed was jaywalking. It's funny how doing the right thing normally works out in the end. O'Brien either does not realize that or forgot it long ago.

Unfortunately, it took this tragic accident for the Vatican to realize that O'Brien was not fit to be a bishop for the Phoenix Diocese. On Wednesday, June 18, word reached O'Brien that the pope had demanded his resignation. Yet O'Brien resisted for three hours before finally succumbing to his deserved fate.

While the Muse is satisfied that O'Brien is gone, he is not happy about the situation and does not revel in the Bishop's plight. The moral authority of the Catholic Church and its leadership are in serious jeopardy, in perhaps the worst crisis in its modern history. Now is not the time for vengeful jubilation, but somber reflection and prayer. 

Pimental Patrol

O. Ricardo Pimental's column last Thursday was right on the money (believe me, you won't read those words in the Pimental Patrol very often). He rightly says that if the pope had done his job by forcing O'Brien to resign after word leaked of the Bishop's immunity agreement, Jim Reed may still be alive today.

The bishop was returning home from a confirmation ceremony. He was performing his role as bishop. If he had not been bishop Saturday night, he would not have attended the ceremony, and probably would not have been driving on that road Saturday night. True, the second car may have hit Reed, but maybe not. So the pope deserves some blame, too. Mr. Pimental deserves credit for pointing this out.

However, one last thing must be said, and it may not be well-received, because it could be construed as blaming the victim. But it is true that Jim Reed should not have been jaywalking across a busy street. An intersection with a brightly lit crosswalk was only 100 feet away - if he had taken the time to cross the street at that intersection, he may still be alive. 

The bottom line is this. Jim Reed's death was a tragic accident, not a crime. The bishop waited until after the accident to commit the crime.

Back to The Occasional Muse