Erasing Racial Ratios
Law-school discrimination in Arizona and Nebraska.


Obviously this policy is not a great thing for the students who are discriminated against. How about for the students who are admitted?

Well, it may not be so great for them either. If you are black or Latino, your classmates, professors, and future employers, clients, and patients will all assume that you aren’t as qualified as your classmates whose color and national origin did not receive preferences. That will often be true — but not always. You have affirmative action to thank for the stereotyping.

It hurts blacks in another way, too. A liberal UCLA law professor, Richard Sander, has collected a vast amount of data from law schools across the country, analyzed it carefully, and concluded that — because mismatching students and law schools results in more classroom failures, dropouts, and bar-exam flunking — there are actually fewer black lawyers today than there would have been without racial preferences in law-school admissions.

Unfortunately, those running American universities prefer not to be confused by all these facts. And although Justice O’Connor wrote over five years ago, “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary,” there are many schools that have not diminished their discrimination by one-fifth.

It’s very unlikely that the discrimination at the University of Nebraska, in particular, will end if the school is left to its own devices. Chancellor Harvey Perlman recently declared that he is adamant about achieving a politically correct racial and ethnic mix there. When confronted with the findings of our recent study, the dean of the law school cheerfully acknowledged that race and ethnicity are factors in admission and that he has no problem with admitting students of favored races with lower academic qualifications than students of unfavored races who are rejected. (His main complaint about our study was that he didn’t see how CEO was able to do it, since he had refused to give us the racial data we asked for. He had, however, given the information to Professor Sander, who shared it with us.)

So there’s only one way to be sure that the racial and ethnic discrimination in admissions at the University of Nebraska will stop. Vote in favor of the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative on Tuesday, which will ban discrimination and preference on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex in public education (including higher education), contracting, and employment.

As for Arizona: Unfortunately, the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative will not be on the ballot a few days from now, since the state officials have ruled that not enough valid petition signatures were gathered. But such efforts failed the first time they were made in California and Michigan, too, and ballot initiatives ultimately passed there.

As a result of the CEO studies, Arizonans who want to end racial and ethnic discrimination in, for instance, the state’s public university law schools now have more evidence that they should not give up either. What’s more, the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute published a report last year documenting many other instances of official discrimination in Arizona. So the CEO studies are not a huge surprise, and law schools are not the only place that discrimination is found.

We’ll be back.

– Roger Clegg is president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity.