Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito appears to reference Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) claim to Native American ancestry during a hearing on a major case dealing with affirmative action’s role in college admissions.
The court is hearing oral arguments in two cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina that were filed in 2014. The challengers in both cases are arguing that college admissions should be colorblind rather than the race-based affirmative action that is used today.
Alito asked the question, “What is preventing students from claiming heritage they don’t have,” and then offered “It’s family lore that we have an ancestor who was an American Indian.”
Park began to answer, but Alito continued, “I identify as an American Indian because I’ve always been told that some ancestor back in the old days was an American Indian.”
Justice Alito: "I identify as an American Indian because I have always been told that some ancestor back in the old days was an American Indian." pic.twitter.com/HV5mFjEL4T
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 31, 2022
North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Park answered, “Yeah so I think in that circumstance it would be very unlikely that that person was telling the truth, and this seems true for, we rely on self-reporting for all the other demographics and characteristics that we asked for and there’s nothing special about the racial identification on that score.”
One Twitter user said about this quote from Alito, “Basically, Justice Alito: “What if I was Elizabeth Warren?”
Basically, Justice Alito: "What if I was Elizabeth Warren?"
— Contemporary Judgments (@ContemporaryJud) October 31, 2022
In the midst of making a point about how proving ancestry in college applications might be difficult, he both trolled Elizabeth Warren and got Park to reveal a truth about the admission process that speaks towards why affirmative action is difficult.
Park admitted, concerning ancestry, “we rely on self-reporting for all the other demographics and characteristics.”
For affirmative action to work the right way in these circumstances, admissions officers must rely on “self-reporting” by the very people who are doing whatever they can to get into the schools that they want.
Answers like this have led Alito to say, “college admissions are a zero-sum game, and if you give a ‘plus’ to a person who falls within the category of under-represented minority, but not to somebody else, then you are disadvantaging the other student.”
Kavanaugh added, as a seeming proponent of the affirmative action challengers, “these racial classifications are potentially dangerous and must have a logical end point.”