Affirmative Action

There are many debates as to how to interpret the constitution. However, none are as controversial as the arguments over the fourteenth amendment. John Rawls believes the equal protection clause should be viewed through a “veil of ignorance” or with a perspective free of bias. With this ideal, the current interpretation of the clause by the Supreme Court is unjust.

The current view of the Supreme Court is that a violation of the equal protection clause is permissible if it allows for the “correcting for bias in standardized tests, compensating for past wrongs, and promoting diversity” (Sandel). One of the most well known cases regarding the clause is Grutter v. Bollinger. In the case, a white woman sues the University of Michigan Law for denying her application on the basis of race (Fallon). The Supreme Court determined that although the school took race into account in their admissions process, the school had not violated the equal protection clause (Fallon).

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Unlike in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, no quota had been used in the admissions process (Fallon). Rawl would disapprove of this thought process because it is biased. He believes one could only make a fair judgement if he had no knowledge of their race, gender, class, etc. (Sandel). He would argue that no violation of the clause can be justified, no matter what the intention.

As the judge is not in the position of either the winner or the loser, he cannot make a fair and equal decision. Another argument is that the Supreme Court’s interpretation agrees with Rawls’ ideas. An advocate for this theory might say that the Court is leveling the playing field and allowing for equal opportunity. However, this claim holds no weight because it imposes a disadvantage on the alleged upper hand. The violation is “giving equal opportunity” to by disadvantaging another.

Regardless of the intentions, no infringement of the equal protection clause is justifiable. Giving an advantage to a particular minority does not level the playing field, it creates a winner and a loser. According to Rawls’ ideas, violation of the equal protection clause, however slight, always makes justice the loser.