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Blum vs. Harvard: Challenging Affirmative Action Before the Supreme Court

Blum vs. Harvard: Challenging Affirmative Action Before the Supreme Court

In a nation where race-conscious policies have been a topic of contention, Edward Blum emerges as a relentless force challenging affirmative action practices. As the Supreme Court deliberates a pivotal decision that could reshape the landscape of race-conscious admissions in colleges, Blum, the man who ignited the case, sits in his Maine home office, tirelessly searching for the next legal battle.

With a sunny disposition and a polarizing track record, Blum, a slender financial adviser by trade, has spent the past three decades spearheading legal cases aimed at eliminating racial preferences from American life. Despite lacking a law degree, he has successfully orchestrated eight cases argued before the Supreme Court, leaving an indelible mark on legal precedent.

Blum’s latest cases, organized against Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, challenge the four-decade-old legal precedent that has permitted universities to consider race in their admissions process. A decision in his favor would signify a significant curtailment of race-conscious affirmative action.

For some conservatives, Blum is hailed as a patriot, while others on the left denounce him as a racist. The battle lines are drawn, and the stakes are high.

“The 1964 Civil Rights Act clearly forbids treating Americans differently by race, that seems to have been lost over the years,” asserts Blum, describing his commitment to upholding principles of equality and opposing race-based policies.

However, Blum’s opponents argue that the United States still has a long way to go in addressing past and present racial disparities, particularly in the realm of education. They contend that racial segregation and educational inequities persist, leaving many Black, Latino, and economically disadvantaged individuals trapped in under-resourced schools.

Sarah Hinger, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, argues, “The path forward is to conscientiously address the historical barriers and inequities in education and to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to access the benefits of education.”

Blum acknowledges the uneven playing field on which students from different racial backgrounds compete but challenges the notion that racism can be eradicated through affirmative action. He believes that legislating equality is a misguided approach and suggests that focusing on improving poorly performing public schools would be a more effective solution.

Blum places great faith in families who hold high academic expectations for their children, considering the family unit as the “most important educational institution in the country.” He shares stories of working-class families from diverse racial backgrounds whose children have excelled academically despite challenging circumstances, emphasizing the power of determination and personal agency.

Blum’s daily routine reflects his unwavering dedication to his cause. Rising at 4:30 a.m., he delves into news stories from across the nation, seeking cases where the law may be leveraged to favor specific racial or ethnic groups over others. He spends the rest of his day contacting potential plaintiffs impacted by such laws, assessing the viability of pursuing legal action.

Blum’s motivation traces back to his own experiences and upbringing. Growing up in a working-class Jewish family, he witnessed the discrimination faced by Jews seeking admission to selective universities. These firsthand encounters with prejudice, combined with the dinner-table conversations he overheard, instilled in him a strong desire for justice and equality.

Blum’s journey towards activism gained momentum when he ran for Congress in Texas as a Republican. It was during this time that he realized the power of racial gerrymandering, as districts were drawn to give political advantage to minority groups, leaving him disillusioned with a system that he believed unjustly favored Black individuals over white individuals.

“You cannot remedy past discrimination with new discrimination,” Blum insists, drawing on his belief that affirmative action perpetuates unfairness rather than rectifying historical injustices.

Throughout his career, Blum has encountered death threats and anti-Semitic attacks due to the controversial nature of his work. However, these challenges have only strengthened his resolve to fight for what he sees as a fundamental issue of civil rights.

As Blum’s latest cases against prestigious universities shine a spotlight on affirmative action, the Supreme Court once again becomes the arena for a battle over race-conscious policies. Blum also questions other discriminatory practices, such as legacy admissions, which disproportionately benefit white students and perpetuate advantages based on lineage.

Regardless of the outcome of these cases, Blum sees them as an opportunity to restore the founding principles of the civil rights movement and believes that a court decision prohibiting any consideration of race would be a significant stride toward achieving true equality.

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  1. Tom

    I have always called Affirmative Action “Reverse Discrimination”. But I am not so bothered by Affirmative Action as I am bothered by the unequal application of Affirmative Action! According to racial equality activist Richard Lapchick, the NBA in 2021 was composed of 73.2 percent black players, 16.8 percent white players, 3.1 percent Latino players of any race, and 0.4 percent Asian players.

    I would like to see more white, Latino, and Asians players in the starting line ups of NBA and college teams.

  2. Robin W Boyd

    Affirmative Action is but one of many racist aspects of government. If we expect all American citizens to be treated equally, government must stop being racist by creating discriminating programs such as Affirmative Action.

  3. Darren

    If there never was Affirmative Action to begin with, the standard of Excellence would have been higher in this Country
    to the betterment of all its people.
    Especially those who Affirmative Action was put in place for.

  4. frank stetson

    I like the idea of giving people a hand up, not a hand out. Sure, it’s difficult picking winners and losers, and there is always both, but that’s the job of Congress, it’s a tough job, but hey, it’s really not their money and they certainly make enough that they should be able to do the job.

    If it wasn’t for the AA-like GI Bill from the late 40’s; I am pretty sure the country would be far behind where we are today, economically and socially.

    About 50% of WWII vets used the GI Bill, 2.2 million veterans went to college, 3.5 million went to technical or vocational school, and 700,000 took instruction in agriculture. This doubled US college grads by 1950’s, a positive trend that continues, albeit not at that pace.

    These grads produced economic miracles by making more cash by inventing a new way of life for America which made life in America better too. And the next generation just kept upping the stakes from the gift that just keeps on giving.

    So, there is value here in that a rising tide lifts all boats.

    That said, many if not all laws, like AA, need to be re-evaluated for replacement, re-engineering, or retirement over time. Welfare, AA, most subsidies, tax cuts, tax increases, credits, and deductions, fall into this category as, and it’s sad to safe, our newer category of decades-old police actions in foreign lands…..

    For a moment, let’s take the race out of it. Isn’t forcing colleges to accept some minority students with exceptional qualities but inability to pay a good thing? Is the fact it blocks some in the majority from attending enough to end the idea? The fear is that we get a “lower brain pool” in this, but that’s really not true; with AA, the brain pool is just fine. The fear is that little white boy has a harder time in this, but that’s really not true — LWB is still way on top in terms of gaining acceptance to college.

    IMO: perhaps re-engineering AA away from Blacks on towards minorities would be a better choice. The US gains strength with diversity, loses power with uniformity, and while it may be harder to manage, harder to make fair at times, the end result sure seems worth it.

    More than 8 million vets when to school in the decade post WWII, millions more got homes or help with their homes; this INVESTMENT in our future created the economic heyday’s of the 50’s and 60’s. It keeps on giving today.

    I like investments that pay. Investing in college, whether minority, majority, black, blue, or green, does more good than bad. I am pretty sure the Supremes will not agree, will end AA, will offer no alternative, and basically, our college diversity will shrink. Gifts that keep on giving will reverse that course thanks to our Conservative powerhouse hell bent on tearing things down without building anything up. It’s a lose-lose scenario where no one wins.