In his famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan expressed the principle first set forth in the Declaration and later vindicated by Lincoln:
"Our Constitution in color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved."
This logic means that as race shall not be used as a basis for discrimination, so it also shall not be used to confer benefits. Our modern American system of racial set-asides under Federal and State law are thus inconsistent with our fundamental law.
Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. CCJ, with the California Assocation of Scholars, filed a brief in the United States Supreme Court supporting the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative which outlawed racial discrimination and preferences in public education and employment. A federal court had struck down the law on the theory that the ban on racial preferences was itself unlawful discrimination because it made it more difficult for racial minorities to pass laws authorizing preferences. The Court heard argument in October of 2013 and is expected to issue its decision soon.
Download the full brief here: Amicus Brief, Bill Schuette, Attorney General of Michigan v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action et al.
Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). In a landmark case from 2003, CCJ, in conjunction with Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Michigan's race-based admissions programs as contrary to the fundamental equality principle articulated originally in the Declaration of Independence and subsequently codified in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Rejecting Michigan's claim that it had a compelling interest in "diversity," we noted that such a claim would not only put us on the path toward perpetual race-balancing, but would actually permit, perhaps even require, the government to ban historically black colleges. In a contentious decision written by Sandra Day O’Connor, the Supreme Court upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s affirmative action program.
Download the full CCJ brief here: Amicus Brief, Barbara Grutter v. Lee Bollinger
Ricci v. DeStefano (2009). CCJ filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court to uphold merit-based hiring and promotion policies in government jobs. The case involved intentional race discrimination against seventeen white (and one Hispanic) firefighters who were denied promotions when the City of New Haven, CT, refused to certify a promotional exam. The city declared the test results invalid because there were no black firefighters in the final promotion-eligible group. The brief was written by John Eastman, Founding Director of CCJ, with John Yoo and Karen Lugo, and joined by former Attorney General Ed Meese.
Download the full CCJ brief here: Amicus Brief, Frank Ricci et al. v. John DeStefano et al.