Like Elizabeth Warren? Checking American Indian Box Based On “Family Lore” Slammed At SCOTUS Affirmative Action Argument
During oral argument of affirmative action case, lawyer for UNC agrees with Justice Alito that “family lore” doesn’t provide basis to claim American Indian status, in a pretty clear reference to Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Listening to U.S. Supreme Court arguments doesn’t usually make me break out laughing and spit out what I’m drinking. But today was special.
I was minding my own business listening to the UNC Affirmative Action oral argument, while I did other things. Justice Alito was questioning Ryan Y. Park, North Carolina Solicitor General, arguing for UNC, when I heard the term “family lore.”
That got my attention.
Because “family lore” was Elizabeth Warren’s justification for claiming to be Cherokee when she checked the box early in her law professor career to claim Native American status. It all was unsubstantiated, as we have documented more extensively than anyone at ElizabethWarrenWiki.org. Not only does Warren have no identifiable Native American ancestors, Warren’s key family lore, including her parents’ alleged elopement and her family’s high cheekbones, were cast into serious doubt.
Don’t even get me started on her entries in the Pow Wow Chow Cookbook, just don’t.
So I paid attention. And it was a thing of beauty.
At pages 97-99 of the transcript, Justice Alito questions how much ancestry was needed to check a box. Is one grandparent enough? One great grandparent? One great, great grandparent?
JUSTICE ALITO: Let me just ask one more related question, and that is the circumstance — and this is a real problem, and I’ve heard it described to me by people who face it, when can a student honestly claim to fall within one of these groups that is awarded a plus factor? So let’s say the student has one grandparent who falls within that class. Can the student claim to be a member of an underrepresented minority?
MR. PARK: Yes, we rely on — on self-reporting. And — and we don’t give any —
JUSTICE ALITO: All right. One great grandparent.
MR. PARK: If that person believes that that is the accurate expression of their identity, I don’t think there would be any —
JUSTICE ALITO: One —
MR. PARK: — problem.
JUSTICE ALITO: — great-great grandparent? Are you going to make me continue to go on?
MR. PARK: Right, right, right. I think that as we go on, I agree that it would seem less plausible that that person would feel that this is actually capturing my true racial identity but the same is true for any of the other diversity factors that we rely on.
Justice Alito then turned to family lore (emphasis added):
JUSTICE ALITO: It’s family lore that we have an ancestor who was an American Indian.
MR. PARK: So I — I think in that particular circumstance, it would be not accurate for them to say based on —
JUSTICE ALITO: Well, I identify as an American Indian because I’ve always been told that some ancestor back in the old days was an American — was an American Indian.
MR. PARK: Yes, so I think in that circumstance, it would be very unlikely that that person was telling the truth. And the same is true for — you know, we rely on self-reporting for all the — the demographic and other characteristics that we ask for. And there’s nothing special about the racial identification on that score, Your Honor.
Justice Alito clearly was talking about Elizabeth Warren when he talked about family lore.
I wish there were video, because he surely had a big grin on his face. I also bet Justice Thomas chuckled. He knows.DONATE
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