Does the SCOTUS Ruling on Affirmative Action Spell the End of Race-Based Reparations? 

Vitalii Vodolazskyi /
Vitalii Vodolazskyi /

When the United States Supreme Court ruled that race-based admissions policies were unconstitutional, it called other racially imbalanced policies into question in surprising ways.  

Even though affirmative action has been ruled unconstitutional, it’s frequently a factor in hiring and recruitment practices in corporate America. If ruling against affirmative action in the university setting is unfair, it makes sense that it is also unfair to consider race as a qualifying factor for job seekers. 

While EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows released an official statement stating the recent decision does “not address employer efforts to foster diverse and inclusive workforces,” EEOC Commissioner Andrea Lucas published an article arguing that that race-based hiring practices are already illegal for employers. Lucas foresees that ending affirmative action will affect corporate America and recommends that “employers review their compliance with existing limitations on race- and sex-conscious diversity initiatives” to ensure they are following federal law, not adhering to “now outdated” regulations. 

But uncovering the impact of the SCOTUS ruling reveals that it may affect even more than just college admissions and employment opportunities. 

It may negate one of the left’s pet projects: race-based reparations. 

Ending affirmative action centered around the Fourteenth Amendment. The language in the amendment is clear; no state can “deny to any person . . . the equal protection of the laws.” The inherent understanding of the amendment is very straightforward. The laws apply equally to everyone, regardless of skin color or race. 

In an interesting side note to the recent SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that all government policies must be color-blind. To ensure this, programs will be held to the Equal Protection Clause’s true intent. Meaning that race will never be considered in a stereotypical way and may never be used negatively. 

It’s this pesky point that potentially renders race-based reparations dead in the water. Liberals want to use government money to pay Black and African Americans simply because they are Black. Other races, including those that were ill-treated in the United States, like Native Americans, are not eligible to receive payment. 

But this means that the government will set policies that favor one race, in this case, Black, over others. The government will use funds to benefit one race while excluding everyone else. 

In other words, reparations are, according to the Equal Protection Clause, simply unconstitutional.  

Racial justice warriors are quick to point out policies that they feel favor white Americans, and the government prohibits creating policies that reward whites for being white. By their own logic, Black Americans cannot receive government funds for being Black. 

It’s important to note that for many, affirmative action was seen as part of reparations. It sought to right the wrongs of slavery and discrimination. It was, however, never intended to be kept in place permanently. It was to be used as a bridge to span the inequalities of post-Civil War America.  

Financial reparations, however, seem to fit neatly into Roberts’ opinion regarding affirmative action and college admissions. He wrote, “Admissions programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points.”  

He went on to clarify that the Equal Protection Clause is “universal in [its] application, and even added, “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.” 

For the left, the decision potentially reins in many divisive policies. If SCOTUS heard a race-based monetary reparations case, it would be easy to predict that the same opinion and ruling would apply.  

It will be interesting to see if any other progressive pet projects, such as Critical Race Theory, will be affected by this interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause. At its heart, critical race theory casts whites in a negative light and uses stereotyping to teach Blacks that they are unable to succeed on their own merits.  

For cash-strapped states promising inconceivable payouts for Blacks, such as California eying $1.2 million per recipient and Illinois’ promise of $25k per recipient, a SCOTUS ruling against the plan’s constitutionality offers an easy way out. Shifting blame is, after all, what the left does best.