Awkward Questions for Justice Breyer

Just this week, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer paid a visit to his high school alma mater, Lowell High School in San Francisco.   He took a tour of the school's campus, which moved in 1962 from downtown San Francisco to its present Sunset District location, and then spent an hour taking questions from the school's junior and senior classes.  According to AP, Justice Breyer (Class of 1955) was treated like a 'rock star'  during his visit to the highly—selective school's campus.

Besides the change in location, Lowell High School has in recent years undergone an immense transformation of its student body, a makeover which Justice Breyer undoubtedly noticed.  When Breyer graduated more than 50 years ago, Lowell was most certainly a majority white school, if not lily—white.  Today, Lowell's student body is capped at 67% Asian, a figure that would be most certainly higher were it not for the defacto ceiling imposed on Asian enrollment by school authorities.

While race is allegedly not a consideration in its highly—competitive admissions process, other factors such as language spoken at home, English Learner Status and parents' occupation are used to determine student admission to Lowell.  These factors, along with others, are used by the San Francisco school to compute a student applicant's 'Diversity Index'  for use in the admissions process. 

Presumably, this means that the school's admissions committee seeks students other than ones whose parents speak Chinese at home, have engineering degrees or work at Chinese restaurants—all in the interest of maintaining student diversity, of course.  To this end, San Francisco school officials known euphemistically as 'reverse truant officers' have been known to pay a visit to a student's home in order to verify information on student applicants, in some cases discreetly following them home from school. 

The irony of Breyer's visit seemed to have been lost on Lowell students, who threw some softball questions at the Supreme Court Justice, but focused mostly on issues pulled from the front pages of the New York Times and hometown San Francisco Chronicle.  Students asked questions on the constitutionality of religious displays on public property, the treatment of terrorist suspects and of course, gay rights. 

Breyer apparently fielded no questions from Lowell students on the legality of their school's Asian quotas in light of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Many Lowell seniors present at Breyer's question—and—answer session will soon learn if they have been accepted by many of the most prestigious colleges in the United States. Undoubtedly, some will get their letters from admission from Harvard (where Breyer's daughter Chloe graduated), Yale (where Breyer's daughter Nell graduated) and Stanford (where Breyer himself and his son Michael graduated), while much larger numbers will be hearing good news from the University of California system and other fine schools. But more than a handful of students—perhaps as many as a few hundred—who will be attending a less prestigious school than they had anticipated should have considered asking Justice Breyer a question or two beyond the standard liberal talking points.

Recently, Breyer was one of five Supreme Court justices who recently voted to uphold Affirmative Action policies at the University of Michigan (Grutter v. Bollinger) and, by default, other upper tier colleges.  As most observers would agree, Asian applicants to America's most prestigious colleges are both negatively and disproportionately affected by Affirmative Action, which serves primarily as a method for schools to limit their numbers on campus, much like Lowell's own 'Diversity Index.'

In the course of Breyer's visit to Lowell, here are some relevant questions I would have asked the Supreme Court Justice:

1) Would you have sent your children to Lowell High School, given its current demographics?

2) In the interests of diversity, should Lowell High School, circa 1955, have imposed a 67% cap on white students?

3) Your son Michael—who attended the prestigious Milton Academy—was admitted to Stanford University off the waiting list, which former Stanford admissions dean Jean Fetter described as 'an appropriate place to acknowledge any legacy preference.'  Are legacy preferences at Stanford the equivalent of Affirmative Action for whites?

4) For Affirmative Action purposes, how should someone who is half—Asian and half—black be classified?   What about someone who is half—Asian and half—white?

Somehow, I'm fairly certain that Justice Breyer would have found some way to avoid answering these questions, side—stepping them as he did earlier questions on religious clubs at public schools. Otherwise, he might have found himself surrounded by an angry mob, rather than an adoring crowd.

If I've learned anything from observing the actions of people such as Justice Breyer, it is that liberals will always find someone else to make sacrifices for the sake of diversity. They love affirmative action as long as their kids can attend elite prep schools and get accepted into Ivy League schools. 

Parents who have no choice but to send their kids to lousy public schools, or get shut out of the best high schools or colleges because of their race, should take comfort in the fact that Justice Breyer's new colleagues on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, are products of mainstream America and not the liberal bubbles  of San Francisco and Cambridge that Breyer inhabited for nearly his entire lifetime prior to moving to Washington, DC.

With the retirement of Justice O'Connor, who provided the crucial 'swing' or 'crossover' vote to uphold Affirmative Action in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the Supreme Court will likely revisit and perhaps overturn the use of racial preferences sometime soon.  Perhaps that explains why Justice Breyer chose to visit his alma mater this week for the first time in over 40 years. It might not be as easy to avoid awkward questions in the near future.

James Chen blogs at Where Have Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Just this week, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer paid a visit to his high school alma mater, Lowell High School in San Francisco.   He took a tour of the school's campus, which moved in 1962 from downtown San Francisco to its present Sunset District location, and then spent an hour taking questions from the school's junior and senior classes.  According to AP, Justice Breyer (Class of 1955) was treated like a 'rock star'  during his visit to the highly—selective school's campus.

Besides the change in location, Lowell High School has in recent years undergone an immense transformation of its student body, a makeover which Justice Breyer undoubtedly noticed.  When Breyer graduated more than 50 years ago, Lowell was most certainly a majority white school, if not lily—white.  Today, Lowell's student body is capped at 67% Asian, a figure that would be most certainly higher were it not for the defacto ceiling imposed on Asian enrollment by school authorities.

While race is allegedly not a consideration in its highly—competitive admissions process, other factors such as language spoken at home, English Learner Status and parents' occupation are used to determine student admission to Lowell.  These factors, along with others, are used by the San Francisco school to compute a student applicant's 'Diversity Index'  for use in the admissions process. 

Presumably, this means that the school's admissions committee seeks students other than ones whose parents speak Chinese at home, have engineering degrees or work at Chinese restaurants—all in the interest of maintaining student diversity, of course.  To this end, San Francisco school officials known euphemistically as 'reverse truant officers' have been known to pay a visit to a student's home in order to verify information on student applicants, in some cases discreetly following them home from school. 

The irony of Breyer's visit seemed to have been lost on Lowell students, who threw some softball questions at the Supreme Court Justice, but focused mostly on issues pulled from the front pages of the New York Times and hometown San Francisco Chronicle.  Students asked questions on the constitutionality of religious displays on public property, the treatment of terrorist suspects and of course, gay rights. 

Breyer apparently fielded no questions from Lowell students on the legality of their school's Asian quotas in light of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Many Lowell seniors present at Breyer's question—and—answer session will soon learn if they have been accepted by many of the most prestigious colleges in the United States. Undoubtedly, some will get their letters from admission from Harvard (where Breyer's daughter Chloe graduated), Yale (where Breyer's daughter Nell graduated) and Stanford (where Breyer himself and his son Michael graduated), while much larger numbers will be hearing good news from the University of California system and other fine schools. But more than a handful of students—perhaps as many as a few hundred—who will be attending a less prestigious school than they had anticipated should have considered asking Justice Breyer a question or two beyond the standard liberal talking points.

Recently, Breyer was one of five Supreme Court justices who recently voted to uphold Affirmative Action policies at the University of Michigan (Grutter v. Bollinger) and, by default, other upper tier colleges.  As most observers would agree, Asian applicants to America's most prestigious colleges are both negatively and disproportionately affected by Affirmative Action, which serves primarily as a method for schools to limit their numbers on campus, much like Lowell's own 'Diversity Index.'

In the course of Breyer's visit to Lowell, here are some relevant questions I would have asked the Supreme Court Justice:

1) Would you have sent your children to Lowell High School, given its current demographics?

2) In the interests of diversity, should Lowell High School, circa 1955, have imposed a 67% cap on white students?

3) Your son Michael—who attended the prestigious Milton Academy—was admitted to Stanford University off the waiting list, which former Stanford admissions dean Jean Fetter described as 'an appropriate place to acknowledge any legacy preference.'  Are legacy preferences at Stanford the equivalent of Affirmative Action for whites?

4) For Affirmative Action purposes, how should someone who is half—Asian and half—black be classified?   What about someone who is half—Asian and half—white?

Somehow, I'm fairly certain that Justice Breyer would have found some way to avoid answering these questions, side—stepping them as he did earlier questions on religious clubs at public schools. Otherwise, he might have found himself surrounded by an angry mob, rather than an adoring crowd.

If I've learned anything from observing the actions of people such as Justice Breyer, it is that liberals will always find someone else to make sacrifices for the sake of diversity. They love affirmative action as long as their kids can attend elite prep schools and get accepted into Ivy League schools. 

Parents who have no choice but to send their kids to lousy public schools, or get shut out of the best high schools or colleges because of their race, should take comfort in the fact that Justice Breyer's new colleagues on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, are products of mainstream America and not the liberal bubbles  of San Francisco and Cambridge that Breyer inhabited for nearly his entire lifetime prior to moving to Washington, DC.

With the retirement of Justice O'Connor, who provided the crucial 'swing' or 'crossover' vote to uphold Affirmative Action in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the Supreme Court will likely revisit and perhaps overturn the use of racial preferences sometime soon.  Perhaps that explains why Justice Breyer chose to visit his alma mater this week for the first time in over 40 years. It might not be as easy to avoid awkward questions in the near future.

James Chen blogs at Where Have Gone, Joe DiMaggio?