Bench Memos

Greenhouse Gas

The New York Times’s Linda Greenhouse predictably praises the recent court of appeals decision upholding the University of Texas’s use of racial and ethnic preferences in admissions. But as I noted on the Times’s website: 

The court’s analytical framework is obviously wrong: The purported educational benefits of adding racial preferences to the Top Ten Percent Plan were not demonstrated, and there was no discussion at all of the costs of such discrimination. The alleged benefits are dubious and trivial, while the costs are many, heavy, and undeniable. To give just one example of the latter: Despite all the attention lately that has been given to the well-documented problem of mismatching students and schools — setting the “beneficiaries” of racial preferences up for failure — there is not a word about it in the court’s opinion.

I also cannot let pass Ms. Greenhouse’s casual and false reference in her piece to “the world of higher education, where race is commonly — even if marginally — a factor in the overall admissions picture.” Commonly, yes — but not marginally. This is, as Ed Whelan notes, a risible claim. As studies from conservative, centrist, and liberal scholars have all confirmed, race is weighed very heavily indeed in university admissions. 

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