U.S. Supreme Court Rulings Are Bittersweet Joy

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The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals applauds the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 26th. Through our joy, we are painfully aware that in the same week the court also ruled on a variety of civil rights issues that will affect many at our institutions and in our community.

In 2010 Judith Butler said, “There is no queer without anti-racism and anti-colonialism.”  Today is a day where we acknowledge this truth.

The courts ruling in Shelby County v. Holder effectively gutted one of the most important factors in the the Voting Rights Act. Adam Liptak from the New York Times reported that, “Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval. Changes in voting procedures in the places that had been covered by the law, including ones concerning restrictions on early voting, will now be subject only to after-the-fact litigation.” Voter identification, redistricting and termination of early voting has the potential to further disenfranchize citizens who are already marginalized. [pullquote]”There is no queer without anti-racism and anti-colonialism.”[/pullquote]

Additionally, in Salinas v. Texas the court ruled that silence during police questioning can be legally interpreted as an admission of guilt unless you specifically invoke your fifth amendment rights. This is another issue that disproportionately affects disenfranchised populations in the U.S., including people of color, transgender, and gender non-conforming people who face police questioning at an alarming rate.

Finally, all of us in higher education were glued to the Fisher v. U of T decision, because it may change the way our institutions admit students. The court sent the Fisher v. University of Texas case back to the lower courts for further consideration. Fisher v. University of Texas questions if affirmative action is constitutional. Justice Thomas said, “While it does not, for constitutional purposes, matter whether the University’s racial discrimination is benign, I note that racial engineering does in fact have insidious consequences. […] Blacks and Hispanics admitted to the University as a result of racial discrimination are, on average, far less prepared than their white and Asian classmates.” In her dissenting remarks, Justice Ginsburg said, “I have several times explained why government actors, including state universities, need not be blind to the lingering effects of ‘an overtly discriminatory past,’ the legacy of ‘centuries of law-sanctioned inequality.'”  We could not say it better ourselves.

So, as we wait again to see what the lower courts will do in Fisher v. University of Texas, we sit with a bittersweet joy in celebrating the over 1,000 federal rights and privileges that will now be given to residents of the 13 states with marriage equality, a path being opened for potential immigration reform for same-sex partners, and the courts decision to allow marriages for same-sex couples to resume in California.

The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals aims to critically transform higher education environments so that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni have equity in every respect.

[From a News Release]

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