Krauthammer: Why the Supreme Court got it right on affirmative action

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This week, the Supreme Court dealing a blow to affirmative action. The high court upholding a Michigan ban on affirmative action in higher education.

Charles Krauthammer says the Supreme Court got it exactly right. He also has that new book out, "Things that Matter." It's been on the "New York Times" list forever.

Charles joins us. Nice to see you, Charles.


VAN SUSTEREN: Affirmative action, you said the Supreme Court got this one right, upholding a ban in Michigan on it.

KRAUTHAMMER: After almost 40 years of rulings on affirmative action, there is finally a ray of light that the court can see its way out of the thicket. And that is it ruled that Michigan has the right and it did pass in a referendum the abolition of affirmative action. It basically restated what's in the Civil Rights Act, you may not discriminate on the basis of race, et cetera, which is pretty clear and stuff that I think the majority of Americans would support.

So the plaintiff's tried to have it overthrown. But the court said, and what's important in this, is that the ruling was six to two. In other words, the conservatives were joined by the famously liberal, Justice Stephen Breyer. And they all agreed that this should be left in the hands of the people.

And as Breyer said, the court is not saying you have to have affirmative action. The court isn't saying that you have to ban affirmative action. It's simply saying let the people decide. That, I think, is, for the first time, we have seen our way out of this. There will be some jurisdictions that will maintain affirmative action. And the court will have to rule from now until the end of time on exactly how much discrimination you are allowed and what kind of cases. But there are now eight states that have now outlawed affirmative action and they will leave this kind of race consciousness behind, which is a good thing for the country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the reason affirmative action was passed to begin with was to remedy past discrimination and also, at least I think, because so many of these schools in these areas that have concentrations of minorities are so dreadfully awful that the students, by the time they got through grade school and high school and got to college, that they needed a little extra help getting in, and that's where the different standards, and that's where the discrimination of people. Why in the world aren't we really fixing these schools so that, you know, we can sort of go beyond affirmative action and give everybody an equal chance, and equal shot?

KRAUTHAMMER: This is exactly right. The problem, as you say, is a terrible education, particularly that inner city kids are getting.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's zero.

KRAUTHAMMER: They can't read by eighth grade. Everybody understands that. And then as a kind of compensation, you allow a small number to get into college, because otherwise they wouldn't be able to. I can understand the rationale behind it, but, A, it goes against the very fundamental principle that the country arrived at 50 years ago: You do not discriminate on the basis of race. It is simply a bad principle. It's the wrong way to remedy this. As Thomas Sowell, Stuart Taylor and a lot of others have shown, when you artificially put students in institutions that are more competitive than they are prepared for, you guarantee them failure. When, had you allowed them to go to institutions where they are prepared, they would be successes. Why -- for instance, the dropout rate among African- Americans at Berkeley was almost 50 percent, whereas with whites, it was about 14 percent. Why would you condemn these bright young African- Americans to fail at Berkeley when they could be extremely successful at other schools in the system?


KRAUTHAMMER: It's the wrong way to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Or we could have a longer view of it, and for once and for all, really establish good education --

KRAUTHAMMER: At the lower --

VAN SUSTEREN: -- at the lower end. And that would be the right thing to do.

KRAUTHAMMER: I agree with you. It's a crime what we are doing to a generation, particularly of inner city kids. That's where you want to go. At the least, you would allow a voucher system so some of them will be able to escape. But liberals oppose that. I think it's unconsciousable.

VAN SUSTEREN: I actually think these schools it's actually unconsciousable what's going on in these schools in these inner cities.

Anyway, Charles, always nice to see you. Book is great.

KRAUTHAMMER: Pleasure to be with you. Thank you.