Bench Memos

Yet Another Bad Argument for Racial Preferences

The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments this week in Fisher v. University of Texas.  The latest arguments I’m hearing in favor of continued racial preferences in university admissions are variations on this theme:  The campus protests show how far country has to go to achieve racial equality, and to ensure that these campus conversations continue, we must continue to ensure plenty of African American students on campus.

Responses: (1) Just because protestors say there is systematic denial of racial equality doesn’t mean that is true. (2) So these conversations are of dubious value, but in any event they need not stop just because racial preferences end, since the black  students involved can all still go to college; it’s just that instead they’ll be going to a college where their academic qualifications are on par with the other students’.  (3) Of course, if they are going to schools where they are as well qualified as the other students, they are less likely to feel marginalized and discriminated against than when they go to schools where they are struggling — and are seen by others to be struggling — because they are “mismatched.”  But (4) the last thing the Left wants is for these conversations to end, because they love racial-identity politics and continuing claims of systemic discrimination, which have a symbiotic relationship with racial preferences.

The Supreme Court could do everyone a big favor if it helped to end the racial essentialism that its blessing of racial preferences has, alas, both presumed and encouraged.  


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