Republican leaders are trashing diversity initiatives
SCOTUS gave them permission to be their worst selves.
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Nearly 100 years ago, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that state legislatures could serve as a “laboratory” to “try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” In theory, this is one of the benefits of federalism — different states have different values and goals. These days, though, the experiments in conservative states are all about ginning up moral panics, destroying diversity, and putting political cronies atop public university systems.
Conservatives have long wanted to get rid of efforts that encourage diversity, be that in the workforce, in higher education, in government — anywhere, really, that people have made efforts to ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Until earlier this year, their efforts were somewhat hamstrung by the fact that affirmative action was still legal. But in June 2023, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, holding that affirmative action efforts are unconstitutional. Now, conservatives have permission to indulge their worst selves.
Last week, Kevin Stitt, the Republican governor of Oklahoma, issued an executive order banning the use of any tax dollars for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Much like their anger over critical race theory (despite having no idea what it actually is), conservatives have become convinced that they are victimized by the most modest of efforts to encourage diversity.