Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Three Items on Fisher


Three items related to Fisher v. University of Texas, the affirmative-action case to be argued before the Supreme Court next week.

I mentioned on Friday the shaky justification being relied on by the university for its use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions, namely the purported “educational benefits” of “diversity.” Here’s some more research that undercuts the social-science evidence relied on by those claiming such benefits; you can take a look at this, too.

This leads us to the second item, namely the Los Angeles Times editorial today that concludes triumphantly that the Court should uphold the University of Texas’s racial discrimination because it must not “upend settled law on the naive assumption that racism and racial discrimination are ancient history.” But, again, the University of Texas does not try to justify its racial discrimination in admissions by pointing to continuing racism and racial discrimination, and for good reason: The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected this broad remedial argument. So as a legal matter, the editorial is a nonstarter. The justification that the University of Texas gives is, again, the supposed “educational benefits” from “diversity” — that random interracial conversations justify systematic racial discrimination. As a logical and empirical matter, this is a nonstarter, too.

The third item also involves MSM coverage of the case.  The Washington Post on Friday had a story that discussed at some length the various (and predictable) amicus briefs filed on the university’s side, but says nothing about the amicus briefs on the opposing side. So here’s my summary of the latter that I wrote posted on Phi Beta Cons right after those briefs were filed:

Links to the merits brief for Abigail Fisher in her lawsuit challenging racially preferential admissions at the University of Texas, and to the supporting briefs filed this week by a wide variety of amici curiae, are posted here. There’s real diversity (pardon the expression) in these briefs, folks: conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; social scientists, economists, statisticians, and journalists; Asians, Jews, Indians, and African Americans; present and former civil-rights officials, including four of the eight current members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; lots of conservative lawyers and legal organizations; and U.S. Representative/Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Allen West, to name just some.

I won’t try to summarize the briefs here, but will note a few themes: It is bizarre for the law not only to allow racial and ethnic discrimination but to defer to a university’s judgment on whether and how to discriminate; this discrimination is offensive and harmful not only to whites and not only to the other groups discriminated against but also to the groups who are supposed to be the “beneficaries” of this discrimination; the discrimination is widespread and schools face not only internal but external pressure to engage in it; the discrimination cannot be supported by social science and, indeed, there is more and more empirical evidence that the costs of racial preferences overwhelm the increasingly shaky claims of its benefits; and the whole business is now just silly (I’m not sure that Elizabeth Warren is mentioned in any of the briefs, but she could have been).


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