The Washington Post has a story today on the big case this week challenging the University of Texas’s racially preferential admissions, “Justices hear from all sides on affirmative action,” the gist of which is that the social science is split on whether racial preferences help or hurt education in our universities. As Peter Kirsanow and Carissa Mulder also discuss today, the evidence on the “hurt” side is more persuasive, but consider this: The only legal justification that the University of Texas can or should be able to offer to justify its racial discrimination is the supposed educational benefits, and now those benefits — which were never claimed to be more than marginal improvements to education — are disputed at best.
How, then, can they possibly be “compelling” (which is what the law requires them to be), especially when they must be weighed against the many and undeniable costs of racial discrimination: It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school; it encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it mismatches students and institutions, guaranteeing failure for many of the former (see the Kirsanow-Mulder piece); it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets states and schools involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership.
Q.E.D.: Racial preferences ought not to be used.