The New York Times reports that "a Supreme Court decision forbidding the use of race in admission at public universities would almost certainly mean that it would be barred at most private ones as well under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids racial discrimination in programs that receive federal money." Here is another reason that progressives should not be so quick to dismiss the libertarian distinction between public and private discrimination. Two years ago Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who was then running for the Senate seat he now occupies, was pilloried for questioning the federal ban on private racial discrimination in places of "public accommodation," on the assumption that anyone making such an argument must be either a naive ideologue or a closet racist. But the same property rights, freedom of association, and freedom of contract that allow bigoted businessmen to shun blacks make it possible for unpopular minorities to make a living, get ahead, and establish their own spheres of autonomy. These rights also would allow private institutions to pursue whatever race-conscious remedies they deemed appropriate in response to the lingering effects of slavery and institutionalized racism, no matter what the Supreme Court said.
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