National Journal Columnist: Today's Conservative Justices Would Uphold 'Separate But Equal'

May 27th, 2014 12:00 PM

The liberal media continue to go to great lengths to suggest that conservatives want to turn back the clock to segregation. In an article for the National Journal, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute absurdly claimed that today’s conservative justices would uphold ‘separate but equal’ if they were transported back to 1954 to make the Brown ruling.

Ornstein argued that the great number of 5-4 rulings in the current Supreme Court show an inability to reach consensus. Of course, he places virtually all the blame for this division on conservatives for their move “sharply to the right.” On the Brown ruling, Ornstein explained:

I thought about what would have happened if the current Supreme Court were transported back to decide Brown. Two years of deliberation? No way. Unanimous or even near-unanimous decision? Forget it. The decision would have been 5-4 the other way, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race"—leaving separate but equal as the standard. The idea that finding unanimity or near-unanimity was important for the fabric of the society would never have come up.

Now, hints at conservative racism are common enough from the liberal media, but to submit that today’s conservative justices would proudly return to the days of ‘separate but equal’ is just preposterous.

The majority rulings from this Supreme Court–particularly on affirmative action–have strongly indicated that the conservatives on the court advocate a race-neutral America.  This is a point that Ornstein concedes, but he somehow believes that this would be a justification to uphold the status quo on the Brown case. “Separate but equal” was designed to do the opposite, as it divided whites and blacks along strictly racial lines. It is difficult to imagine how the conservatives on this court would uphold such a policy.   

Such a ridiculous claim is not particularly unusual from Mr. Ornstein. This is a man who was content to solely blame Republicans and conservatives for the dysfunction that afflicts Washington today.

Ornstein went on to suggest that Roberts’s ruling to uphold ObamaCare was actually a diabolical plot to soften criticism of future rulings:

His surprising ruling on the Affordable Care Act was clearly done with an eye toward softening the criticism that was sure to come with the series of 5-4 decisions on campaign finance and voting rights that lay ahead.

Unless Norman Ornstein is a skilled mind-reader, this sort of hysterical charge sounds too much like a grand, shadowy conspiracy theory. It’s something that would be laughed out of a court of law, and probably should have been laughed out of the editorial meeting at the National Journal.