Roberts, Paul Craig, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Just as House Speaker Newt Gingrich was recovering his image as Republican leader, he again fell on his face. On "Fox News Sunday" he traduced equality and cut the legs off House Republican Charles Canady of Florida, who was planning to introduce legislation that would ban preferential treatment based on race and gender. Mr. Gingrich said it was not on his political agenda to do anything soon about the unconstitutional and illegal privileges that are creating a caste system in the United States.
Mr. Gingrich's timing could not have been worse for his image as a leader. He publicly ran away from the grave threat that quotas pose to our constitutional order just as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Constitution requires law to apply equally to U.S. citizens without regard to race or gender, just as New Republic editor Michael Kelly condemned the Clinton administration for its "policy of granting preference to one group of citizens over another, based on accidents of birth," and just as the U.S. Soliciter General overruled Assistant Education Secretary Norma Cantu's attempts to circumvent the Hopwood ruling against racial quotas in Texas.
Under our system of law, privilege is a no-no. The 1964 Civil Rights Act reaffirmed the colorblind character of U.S. law and made racial quotas strictly illegal. However, bureaucrats took advantage of the preoccupation of successive Congresses with Vietnam, Watergate, stagflation, the Soviet threat and the tax and budget fights of the Reagan years to create a quota regime in both public and private sectors. The courts made narrow rulings and winked at the growing illegality of employment promotion, federal contracting, and university admissions policies.
With the passage of time, quotas became entrenched and are now regarded as entitlements by their beneficiaries. Moreover, quota advocates have had ample time in which to revise history and to portray their illegal handiwork as a great moral accomplishment that only white racists would want to overthrow. Mr. Gingrich contributed to the inevitable mau-mauing of those who stand for colorblind equality when he charged on "Fox News Sunday" that "all too many conservatives were passive during the segregation fight or candidly on the side of segregation."
We now have reverse segregation, and Mr. Gingrich could be said to be candidly on its side. Like Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich says he does not favor race and gender quotas, and like Bill Clinton, he will not take any steps to end them.
Mr. Gingrich would have looked more leaderlike if he had simply said unmarried women are the largest pool of potential quota hires and as the votes of unmarried women won the election for Bill Clinton, Republicans cannot afford to antagonize this political constituency by terminating race and gender preferences. …