The prospects for the pro-affirmative action plaintiffs in Tuesday’s Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Supreme Court case were never terribly promising. And the oral arguments yesterday did little to challenge that notion. 

Schuette concerns the constiutionality of Proposal 2, a 2006 Michigan state ballot initiative which banned affirmative action in public education, hiring and contracting. The law, pro-affirmative action plaintiffs argued, violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by singling out people of color and those who want diverse college campuses and putting the political process further out of reach for them and them alone. 

The conservative wing of the Supreme Court wasn’t much convinced. Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia were openly hostile toward the case against Proposal 2. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action attorney’s Shanta Driver asked in her opening argument that the Supreme Court, “bring the 14th Amendment back to its original purpose and meaning, which is to protect minority rights against majority, which did not occur in this case,” before Justice Scalia cut her off.

JUSTICE SCALIA: My goodness, I thought we’ve – we’ve held that the 14th Amendment protects all ?races. I mean, that was the argument in the early years, that it protected only – only the blacks. But I thought we rejected that. You – you say now that we have to proceed as though its purpose is not to protect whites, only to protect minorities?