Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy has written a new book entitled For Discrimination. He’d like people to think of it as an even-handed effort in which he has carefully evaluated the cases for continuing the use of racial preferences and against, then rationally concluded that the former is much stronger than the latter. So much so that to end the use of preferences now would be “a calamity.”
In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, I review the book and find it to be a very weak effort. It isn’t a careful evaluation of either side. Kennedy pronounces that the purported benefits of racial preferences (including “racial justice” and “legitimation”) are extremely important to the U.S., but we’re supposed to accept that on his ipse dixit. Conversely, his analysis of the case against preferences omits key arguments. The book will, no doubt, lift the spirits of the defenders of preferences, who will delight in hearing a Harvard Law professor tell them that they’re right. It won’t, however, win over anyone who isn’t already in that camp.