Bench Memos

Lee Bollinger’s Hail Mary

In a last ditch effort to sway the Supreme Court his way in Fisher v. University of Texas, Columbia president Lee Bollinger has an essay in the New York Times.  It makes three points, which can be briefly stated and refuted: 

‐As the book Mismatch and others have documented, while the number of African Americans and Latinos admitted to a couple of California universities may have gone down in the wake of banning racial preferences there, the number of students who have graduated in the University of California system has gone up dramatically.

‐Exposure to different viewpoints can be an educational positive, but it doesn’t justify something as ugly as racial discrimination, with all its costs, and in all events  there is no reason to use race as a proxy for having a different viewpoint. 

‐As for using racial discrimination to achieve racial balancing, this is nothing more than the “discrimination for its own sake” that Justice Powell explicitly rejected decades ago in his Bakke opinion.


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