Phi Beta Cons

Diversity Lives

John Payton, one of the attorneys for the University of Michigan in the affirmative-action cases, speaking at an event at the Washington and Lee University School of Law broadcast on C-Span, said that the lawyers for plaintiffs in those cases made no arguments against the idea of “diversity” as an educational value, but readily conceded its importance. Alas, this is true. So convinced were the plaintiffs’ lawyers that the United States Supreme Court would never put racial preferences into the Constitution that they chose not to challenge the diversity concept (which in practicality means proportional group representation), even though there was a body of research exposing the weakness of the claim of educational benefits. This research was contained in amicus briefs but was not cited by the plaintiffs. It has come to light that the plaintiff lawyers thought that the administration was going to make the arguments against the educational value of diversity, but Alberto Gonzales put his foot down and scotched that idea. Around that time, it might be remembered, Condoleezza Rice also came out with her own independent statement in support of affirmative action.
At any rate, it is an example of the complacency in which many conservatives and traditionalists have indulged in recent years, imagining that American ideals don’t need to be explained, defended, or even taught, but are so timeless, absolute, universal, impregnable, unassailable, that they can virtually uphold themselves.


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