The Supreme Court today issued another in a series of muddle-headed decisions that have begun to characterize it. On hot button issues the Court's intellectual lightweights--Justices O'Connor and Souter--tend to get pulled in the policy direction favored by the national media. Today's decision was no exception. O'Connor was the swing vote in two decisions examining the University of Mivchigan's affirmative action/racial spoils sytem used in undergrad and law school admissions. Ignoring the legal reasoning, which is superfluous anyway in these outcome-oriented decisions, O"Connor was impressed by the difference in an explicit points-based system used by the undergrad school to reward skin color versus the law school's more subtle gestalt approach. Thus she voted to throw out the former while keeping the latter. The takeaway is it is ok to use quotas but try not to make it so blatant. While it is good fun to demonstrate the total lack of intellectual honesty displayed by the Court, the principles in conflict here are formidable. On the one side is our professed insistence on a color-blind society, a commitment articulated memorably by Martin Luther King. This principle would seem to have the support of the Constitution and in particular the 14th Amendment which was enacted to mandate racial fairness. The Constitution contains no exceptions for discrimination in favor of minorities. On the other side is the stark fact that a purely merit-based system, even if it could be designed and enacted, would apparently exclude a high percentage of native born minorities from higher education. I find it ironic that this concept is both criticized bitterly as racist yet at the same time embraced by diversity advocates. Consider the NAACP's comments on this case: "These represent the most significant civil rights cases the Supreme Court will have decided in the last quarter-century," said Ted Shaw, NAACP associate counsel. "This issue is nothing less than whether the doors of opportunity remain open for students of color." I have little doubt that if Trent Lott stated that the only way most blacks could get into prestigious universities was to be held to a lesser standard, the NAACP would be screaming for his scalp. Whatever. Anyway, today's decision will do little except encourage people to discriminate in private rather than in public. I wonder how you tell if a law school is black enough anyway?