“Justice Samuel Alito took luxury fishing vacation with GOP billionaire who later had cases before the court.” — ProPublica
“The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down affirmative action programs at the University of North Carolina and Harvard in a major victory for conservative activists, ending the systematic consideration of race in the admissions process.” — NBC News
We, the conservative justices of the Supreme Court, have ruled against Harvard and UNC, striking down affirmative action for college admissions across the country. For a detailed explanation of our ruling, feel free to read the court’s majority decision. But in a nutshell, we believe the only people who should ever get extra consideration are those who invite you to hang out on their boats.
You see, it came down to a matter of fairness. Getting into college should be based purely on merit—getting good grades, scoring highly on the SAT, writing a compelling essay, and participating in extracurriculars that speak to your interests. And if one of those interests happens to be sailing, and your family happens to have a 120-foot sailing yacht, and you happen to go on an eight-day pleasure cruise in the Mediterranean the summer before your senior year of high school, and your dad happens to invite the head of admissions at Dartmouth on that trip, we’d see absolutely no problem with that. Just as long as you keep the conversation to nautical topics like, “What are some of your favorite knots?” Or “Spinnakers, am I right?” Or “Say, how competitive is the Dartmouth sailing team, anyhow?”
As we deliberated on the Harvard case, we saw two major sources of inequity in the admissions process:
- A significant percentage of students admitted to Harvard were either legacies or were related to Harvard faculty and staff.
- Harvard was admitting Black and Latino students at slightly higher rates than in the 1960s, though still not proportionate to their respective populations.
To determine which was a bigger ethical issue, we asked ourselves a simple question: In which of these two groups are you more likely to own a catamaran? After considering that, the majority opinion practically wrote itself.
The liberal justices argued that rolling back affirmative action would undo decades of progress designed to right the wrongs of systemic inequality. But we don’t believe in being on the “right” side of this issue. We believe in being on the “starboard” side of this issue—the side that favors folks who invite us over for cocktails on the starboard sides of their boats. Which, incidentally, is the right side of the boat, so we think that counts.
Regarding the merits of the decision, some legal scholars felt it was dubious to cite the 14th Amendment, which the court had previously used to argue the exact opposite ruling in favor of affirmative action decades ago. But not one of those scholars invited us on a deep-sea fishing trip to Alaska, or an island-hopping jaunt in the Caribbean, or even a day sail on the Potomac. We might have been more sympathetic to their counterpoints had they thought to do that.
It’s also worth noting that, while the 14th Amendment says many things about equal protection and due process, it says absolutely nothing about boats, or at what point a “boat trip with friends” becomes a “quid pro quo.” Nobody needs a reason to invite you on their boat. Besides, who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon with Clarence Thomas simply for the divine pleasure of his company?
For those who say the college experience is enriched by having classmates of different backgrounds and perspectives, we can say with certainty that the college experience is also enriched by knowing more people who own megayachts. Depending on how you define “enrich,” of course.
And if you do eventually strike it rich and want to bring us along for a sail, we’d be happy to hop on board. Better yet, hand us a mai tai and one of those captain’s hats with a little anchor on it, and you might find we’ll be “on board” with just about anything.