In covering the most highly publicized “affirmative action” lawsuit in decades – against Harvard University — the news media are continuing their pattern of averting their eyes from stubborn facts that cut against their ideological preferences. In recent trial testimony, Harvard and other selective schools claim that the only way they can maintain adequate racial diversity is to use large racial preferences to admit a great many more black (and brown) students than would otherwise get in based on their academic performance. A person of ordinary curiosity might wonder: Why is that? Just what is the state of black academic […]
The discrimination lawsuit against Harvard College that was rejected in September 2019 by a liberal federal judge in Boston and is making its way gradually toward the Supreme Court may well put a momentous choice before the justices, and the country, within the next two or three years. Should the Court allow racial preferences in university admissions to continue forever? Or should it ban them as unconstitutional, even though a rigorously enforced ban could dramatically cut enrollments of African Americans and Latinos at selective schools? Almost all publicity about the case has focused on the powerful, if disputed, evidence that […]
As the Trump administration prepares to investigate a highly plausible but previously neglected 2015 complaint to federal agencies by 64 Asian-American groups that Harvard uses illegal racial admissions quotas to limit Asian-Americans, all sides in the racial-preference controversy wonder whether officials may have bigger things in mind. Although I am very far from being a Trump fan, I hope they do. I especially hope that the administration will force universities that consider race in admissions to disclose for the first time the so-far-closely-guarded data that would expose the nature and size of their preferences and the academic impact on supposed […]
Thirteen years to the day after the Supreme Court said “[w]e expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences [in university admissions] will no longer be necessary,” the Court on Thursday paved the way for perpetuating such preferences for many decades, perhaps centuries. Unless the next two Supreme Court appointees are strong opponents of racial preferences — a most unlikely prospect — the Court’s role since the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke decision as a modest restraint on use of such preferences is at an end. To be sure, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion for […]
Now that the Supreme Court has blessed racial preferences, universities should be transparent about the costs and benefits to intended beneficiaries. By making clear that racial affirmative-action preferences in higher-education admissions are likely to have the Supreme Court’s blessing for many decades to come, the Court might—just might—have set the stage for a more candid and constructive public discussion about how to make preferences work more effectively for the intended beneficiaries. The June 23 decision should end the siege mentality among defenders of racial preferences—and that, in turn, should lead to much-needed transparency and honesty about the costs as well […]
Justice Antonin Scalia ‘s dreadfully worded comments last week during oral argument about racial preferences in college admissions understandably offended many people. But what he was obviously trying to say made an important point that had nothing to do with racism — a charge hurled at Scalia by people including Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, who once again wallowed in shameless demagoguery.
In an Oxford-style Intelligence Squared debate held on December 3, 2015, Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity and I argued for the proposition that “The Equal Protection Clause forbids racial preferences in state university admissions.” You can watch video of the debate at IntelligenceSquaredUs.org or via Intelligence Squared’s YouTube channel. The transcript may be read online at IntelligenceSquaredUS.org.
Why are some of the most privileged students in the nation plunging into a racial grievance culture and upending their campuses as though oppressed by Halloween costumes they don’t approve, imagined racial slights, portraits of Woodrow Wilson, a tiny handful of real racial epithets, and the like? The reasons are of course multifaceted. But one deserves far more attention than it has gotten: Many or most of the African-American student protesters really are victims — but not of old-fashioned racism.
As a critic of the current regime of very large racial preferences, I hope that Fisher v. University of Texas opens the way for a healthy shift of the focus in such lawsuits from legal abstractions to the growing body of evidence that large preferences harm many intended beneficiaries and reduce socioeconomic diversity. I detailed here the reasons for this hope, and I join other racial-preference critics in seeing the decision as a narrow if unsatisfying win on principle. But I also have a fear, explained below, that Fisher could be a prelude to entrenching racial preferences in university admissions […]
The Supreme Court’s narrow decision Monday keeping alive a challenge to racial preferences in admissions at the University of Texas may open the way for a healthy shift in the debate from legal abstractions to whether these preferences are working as advertised. That should bring attention to the growing body of evidence that large preferences harm many intended beneficiaries and reduce socioeconomic diversity. The seeds of a potentially rich debate in future lawsuits and around the country about how racial preferences operate in practice and their effects on students can be found in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s spare opinion for himself […]