Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2003
Marianne M. Jennings
"My ex is a minority, so I deserve special treatment"
A law school admissions committee, steeped in its special-track minority candidates, came upon a file that had nothing about the applicant's "ethnic" background. A faculty member followed up with the candidate in this phone conversation:
"We noticed you checked off the box for 'Hispanic' in your law school application, . . . Could you tell me a little about yourself in that regard?"
"My ex-husband was Hispanic, and I had a baby by him."
"We do not view a woman who has had a baby by a Hispanic father as having acquired the father's ethnic status. . . . we will go ahead and handle your application under our non-diversity applications process."
Prof. John Martinez, Univ. of Utah, tells this story in, "Trivializing Diversity: The Problem of Overinclusion in Affirmative Action Programs." (Harvard Blackletter Law Journal). Hey! There's no Harvard Whiteletter Law Journal, or even whiteletter law.
Such a story should be an epiphany for the thinking man, woman, or gender disorder victim. Affirmative action (AA) has gone amok, causing racial gaming in law school admissions. Instead, Professor Martinez advocates the use of deprivation factors, in lieu of race, as a proxy for achieving diversity. Social justice is served, he claims. Marxists are always so altruistic.
Under deprivation admissions, the hard-knock life counts. Oh, the boxes we'll see for deprivation screening: "Unwed mother - white father," "Unwed mother - minority father," "Reformed crack addict," "White male who pays child support --ex-wife, wench," "Molested as a child," "Molested by a priest as a child."
Trotting down paths other than that of ability reduces us to quibbling one-upmanship. Scores and GPAs be damned, pitiful souls, arise! Prof. Martinez assumes that deprivation runs along racial lines. It's AA without nasty constitutional issues.
AA, a misguided tour de force, has invincibility because the "racist" label is hurled at those who dare point to its flaws. But flawed it is. In the 95 scholarly articles on AA that I reviewed, there are several admissions, as it were, about AA's deficiencies.
First, race is not a good proxy for sacred diversity. Law schools using race quotas discovered that they were admitting too many minorities whose parents were brain surgeons, thus depriving them of the ghetto flavor they crave in their classrooms.
Second, minority admissions programs brought unqualified and marginal candidates. A Law School Admission Council study found grade point average and LSAT score "were the strongest predictors of bar exam passage." Lowering both for minority admits leaves them struggling to pass the bar. Minority pass rates, including second- and third-tries, are 10% below whites'.
Law professors are undaunted. Don't eliminate special-track admissions; toss bar exams, substitute apprenticeships, count pro bono work, or give take-home exams. How about graham crackers during the exam? Heck, if they've been deprived enough, just make them lawyers. AA proponents create a world with no merit or distinction, except in race. A nation nearly divided itself and lost its sons to banish such contemptible divisiveness and genetic judgments.
Racial quotas and special admissions programs drive a wedge between Americans, creating racial tension. Jesse Helms ran an ad during the 1990 elections that depicted a white worker crumbling a job-rejection letter while the narrator explained that a less qualified minority applicant got the job.
The ad resounded with voters because Americans think AA is wrong. Gallup's five surveys in the last decade find that 84% of Americans believe ability should be the determining factor. Only 10-11% feel minorities should be given preferential treatment. Americans understand what Justice O'Connor wrote in Metro Broadcasting v. FCC, "(a)t the heart of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual, or national class."
Law school admissions are on the tips of many tongues because the U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear the Bollinger v. Grutter case in which a white female with a higher LSAT and GPA was denied admission to the University of Michigan law school even as minorities with lower numbers were admitted.
Mr. Bush should take the same position as president that he took as governor of Texas. Bush opposed racial preferences in public universities, instead admitting students who graduated in the top 10% at their high schools. Diversity increased.
I hope that's not waffling I smell coming from the White House. Mr. Bush, who once said quotas "pit one against another," but stinging from Lottgate, hesitates. When it comes to equal rights, even pauses in conviction are troublesome.