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Congresswoman Waters Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia's Comments in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin Supreme Court Case

December 10, 2015
Press Release


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, released the following statement following comments made by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II) U.S. Supreme Court case.


“I am appalled by the inflammatory remarks Supreme Court Justice Scalia offered yesterday that implied that black people were intellectually less capable than other Americans and therefore should not attend schools of high academic rigor. Justice Scalia’s comments are unacceptable under any circumstance, but are especially alarming coming from the bench of the nation’s highest court, where this kind of thinking has no place. Specifically, Scalia stated that “maybe [the University of Texas] ought [emphasis added] to have fewer” African Americans. Justice Scalia’s comments resurrect a sentiment that prevailed during the Jim Crow, ‘separate but equal’ era; a sentiment that enabled the legal confinement of African Americans to the inferior and underfunded spaces of our nation, and ultimately relegated them to a second-class life. This sentiment is indicative of a court that, in recent years, has already taken steps to undermine affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act.

"It is disappointing and disturbing that a member of the Supreme Court holds beliefs that continue to perpetuate the idea that African Americans should only occupy second-rate spaces. Although his comments were made in the context of education, the idea that African Americans are less deserving of quality access and opportunity permeates all aspects of our lives. It is why African Americans are more likely to be targets of predatory consumer products, charged more for home mortgages, denied good-paying jobs, or subject to countless other forms of discrimination and injustices on a daily basis.

"Furthermore, Justice Scalia’s comments suggest that African American students should be resigned to an education afforded by private, post-secondary colleges, or for-profit colleges, which have been the subject of ongoing fraudulent scandals for decades. I have spent my career exposing the truth about these institutions and their predatory marketing practices that lure African American and other vulnerable student populations into enrollment and saddle them with debt, while failing to provide a quality education or the necessary skills and training to enter the workforce. It is troublingly offensive and dangerous that Justice Scalia believes this is the type of education that Black students ought to receive.

"It is my sincere hope that these comments not only serve as a reminder of the type of thinking that still exists at the highest level of decision making in this country, but that they also compel action from lawmakers and others to continue our fight to eradicate this disturbing philosophy engrained into many of our laws. I also hope that the many African American students enrolled in universities, law schools, or medical schools and any institution where African Americans are not always welcome or accepted will not internalize Justice Scalia’s comments but will continue to persevere and strive for excellence as they do every day in a society that all too often fails to celebrate and uplift black excellence and academic achievement."