This week’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion on affirmative action has generated a lot of commentary from the mainstream press, much of it tainted by each outlet’s political persuasion.
Removed from the political hot stove, the opinion may best be summarized this way. First, it does not pass any judgment on the merits (or lack of merit) of affirmative action. Second, public universities still may, as they could before, implement an affirmative action policy. Third, and that is the part the Court ruled on, public universities are not compelled as a matter of federal law to have an affirmative action policy if the voters of their state decide otherwise.
Closer to home, the opinion changes nothing for Florida’s private employers. The anti-discrimination laws that apply to the state’s private companies are the Florida Civil Rights Act and its federal equivalents. Nothing in the Court’s opinion about the intersection between state referendums and the federal constitution’s equal-protection clause affects how those laws are read. The most fundamental thrust of, and advice derived from, non-discrimination laws in the private sector remains, simply, to treat everyone the same regardless of race, gender, religion, and so on.