I'm an educator. This is why I want Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court

As an educator I cheer Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama-era directives to schools and universities. Those forced aggressive race-based preferences ran roughshod over student and faculty civil rights, and empowered self-righteous liberal administrators to persecute conservative scholars.

Another zealot in the White House could reverse all that, but elevating Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would be a better way toward reversing bad policy and locking in badly needed educational and judicial reforms.

As with the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by executive order, Obama-era policies toward universities were founded on an aggressive application of a legal principle established by a 1984 Supreme Court decision involving Chevron. It states that when a law is unclear the court should defer to a reasonable interpretation by the federal agency.

The operative word is “reasonable” but this doctrine has often been abused. Judge Kavanaugh is highly skeptical of this executive power. With him on the Supreme Court, future Democratic administrations will be less able to again reverse Bush era guidance to universities—now reinstated by the Education Department under Trump—aimed at better ensuring race neutral practices. Or to encourage liberal administrators to impose their orthodoxy on their faculty.

Sadly, schools don’t need explicit quotas to exhibit unconscionable bias. For example, Harvard ranks applicants by four criteria—academic, extracurricular, athletic and personal. Asian students, it turns out, are generally assigned the lowest scores on the last category, which assess whether applicants have a “positive personality,” and consequently have a much lower probability of gaining admission.

I have learned from hard experience that challenging liberal hectoring in the public square can bring a sharp rebuke from superiors and harassment on a variety of fronts.

Harvard is especially vulnerable because it will not release to the public the training materials it uses to ensure admissions officers and alumni who evaluate applicants apply the standards as its board of overseers, administration and faculty consider appropriate.

At Harvard, few freshmen are admitted who cannot compete in the classroom—it gets many more applicants with perfect SAT scores or GPAs than it has seats to offer—but its racially- and culturally-slanted practices are mirrored by admission departments (formally and informally) across the country.

When students are admitted for race or other reasons (for example developmental seats offered to children of wealthy and prominent parents and alumni) with substantially lower academic credentials than the average for a class, the likelihood that he or she will leave without a diploma and with significant debt goes up dramatically. And faculties are pressured to lower content and grading standards as a result.

Universities have become decidedly more hostile to conservative values—“radical” notions such as individual accountability or that marriage and starting a family are important steps toward being considered an adult are actually considered controversial in many academic quarters Instead, a culture that systematically vilifies the contributions of our European heritage to American civilization and that discriminates against white males is the order of the day.

In this environment, speech is tightly policed and students are encouraged to substitute sloganeering for critical thinking.  Disruptive, intolerant behavior is not only tolerated, it is actively encouraged.

I have learned from hard experience that challenging liberal hectoring in the public square can bring a sharp rebuke from superiors and harassment on a variety of fronts.

So has Amy Wax, a University of Pennsylvania law professor vilified for exploring the impacts of affirmative action on student performance and for having the audacity to suggest that “bourgeois” values such as hard work or respect for authority might hold the key to some of the societal ills facing us today.

Given such skewed conceptions, is it really any surprise that tests conducted near the beginning and end of university careers indicate many universities—some prestigious and others not—add little to students’ ability to address a body of information and reach well-reasoned conclusions. And employers find many graduates unprepared for entry level professional or managerial work.

It would be interesting to see how Harvard ranks two students with identical records but one whose primary extracurricular activities are of a female volunteering for liberal causes through Pantsuit Nation and another volunteering at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum—or a male who devoted himself to a Junior Achievement project to launch a software app.

Harvard argues its admission processes are akin to a trade secret. Perhaps the secret it wants kept from public view is the institutionalization of its racial, political and gender prejudices.  And it would have a tougher time justifying those to the Supreme Court if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.