The Corner

Education

How Courts Should Test the Claims of Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court has ruled that courts must employ “strict scrutiny” in cases involving racial preferences. The problem is that when courts have those cases before them, they’ve been inclined to accept the claims universities make for them at face value. They beg the question.

What should strict scrutiny call for? In today’s Martin Center article, George Dent and Hal Arkes answer that courts should employ disaggregated data on students who’ve been accepted and demand evidence on the supposed benefits of having “diverse” classrooms rather than bromides. Also, courts should cast aside evidence that’s based merely on self-reports from students.

In sum, the burden of proof must be on the universities and the courts (including SCOTUS) have never held them to it. Dent and Arkes write:

Remember that the burden is on the university to show ‘that its plan is narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefits that flow from diversity.’ Courts should require universities to conduct serious studies and produce concrete evidence of actual educational benefits from their racial preferences in admissions. Unsupported claims that diversity promotes cross-racial understanding and breaks down stereotypes should not suffice.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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