Posts Tagged ‘Gail Heriot’
March 29th, 2013 at 12:25 pm
More on Affirmative Action

Tim’s column on the Michigan affirmative action case is not just right on target, but superb.

I particularly like this section:

So [according to those who filed suit to force Michigan to continue racial-preference policies], non-discrimination is discriminatory?

And states across the nation must suddenly reinstate racial preferences?

Such a result is untenable judicially, logically or linguistically, and the Supreme Court has accepted the opportunity to restore reason to the matter.  Curt Levey, counsel of record in the 2003 cases challenging Michigan’s race-based admissions policies, captured the issue well:  “The Fourteenth Amendment, lest we lose sight of the forest for the trees, does not require what it barely permits.”

Or, as stated by Chief Justice John Roberts in a 2007 affirmative action case, “The way to end discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

That is exactly what Michigan voters overwhelmingly attempted to do.  It is now the Supreme Court’s task to affirm that the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause actually means what it says.

Another excellent, concise summary of the issues at stake comes in the line from Hans von Spakovsky’s blog post for the Heritage Foundation: “The Sixth Circuit’s decision cannot be justified under the law because it turns the Equal Protection Doctrine on its head, holding that when a state bans unequal treatment under the law it somehow violates the concept of equal protection under the law.”

This isn’t just some abstruse legal argument — and it has practical applications beyond just those students who will be directly affected by the decision. As I’ve found in many years of battling against the vestiges of racism by whites against blacks, no single public policy is more likely to give white racists reason to self-justify their noxious attitudes than is a regime of racial preferences. If take away “affirmative action” — which, for both moral and legal reasons, we should indeed take away — we won’t, of course, cure racists of their racism, but we will further isolate them, further shame them, and further take away their willingness to openly state or act on their racism, because they will no longer be able to cite “affirmative action” as an excuse for them to feel unfairly treated just for being white. Moreover, I’ve found that it’s amazing how many people will actually change their ill behavior if they no longer think they can justify it in what they consider to be polite company.

Racial preferences sometimes stigmatize the recipients, often (as per U.S. Civil Rights Commission Gail Heriot) harm their own interests, and greatly exacerbate racial tensions. For all those reasons, as well as for the excellent reasons put forth by Tim, the time has come for such preferences to end.

February 24th, 2012 at 2:07 pm
Affirmative Action, a Middle View

The always thoughtful, always interesting former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama has a superb essay on affirmative action, in response to the Supreme Court announcing it will hear a new case challenging race-based admissions. Davis is more in the middle on the issue than I am — I am dead set against using race as a factor in any way, pro or con, because I believe in absolute legal color-blindness — but he does make good points to the effect that the lack of ANY racial consciousness probably would have the short-term effect, at some schools, of a lower rate of black admissions and enrollments.

One thing he missed, though, is the strong evidence that black students, or any students for that matter, admitted to more competitive institutions than they otherwise would qualify for tend, in turn, to fail at higher rates — whereas if they went to slightly less competitive institutions, they succeed, and end up better off in the long run. In fact, in the Texas case heading to the Supreme Court, three members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow, Todd Gaziano) make that point exactly.

Without discussing that point, though, Davis still notes that there are plenty of less competitive, but perfectly competent schools, that will indeed take students turned down by, say, the Ivy League schools, and then writes:

But the reflexive instinct that ending race conscious college admissions is a disaster in the making? It’s no longer a serious claim. Even a full-scale retreat would hardly disenfranchise African American students or consign them to sub-par schools that lack adequate resources. The market of higher education is much too robust for that. 

This is great stuff. Conservatives do need to recognize that it is important, in one way or another, to ensure that opportunities are not closed, for cultural or whatever other reasons, to black Americans. (Other reasons might include semi-legitimate practices such as preferences for “legacy” candidates.) Those of us who oppose affirmative action should always keep in mind that even if racism isn’t at work, black Americans proportionately do seem to suffer from fewer opportunities, in practice, than white ones. This doesn’t mean the law should discriminate in their favor, but it does mean the culture still needs work.

Meanwhile, let’s hope the high court does the right thing and strikes down the racial preferences in Texas…..