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News & Events

Who Is Affirmative Action For?

By Natasha Warikoo on June 23, 2016 3:48 PM
This article originally appeared in the "Boston Globe."

Many are viewing Thursday’s Supreme Court affirmation of the Fifth Circuit’s decision to allow University of Texas to consider race in admissions in the Fisher v. University of Texas case as a victory. But consider this: The only legally permissible justification for affirmative action has been that it improves the lives of whites. In the 1978 case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Justice Lewis Powell’s majority opinion supported affirmative action for its contribution to a diverse student body and the “robust exchange of ideas.” The important question here is, diverse for whom? The campus was predominantly white in 1978. The advocates of the University of California and Powell both understood that white students would benefit from minority voices in their classes.

A group of more than 800 scholars, including myself, filed an amicus brief to Fisher v. Texas, with research conducted in the decades after Bakke that details those benefits. So we now know that those hunches back in the 1970s were right

Still, the legal justification of affirmative action solely for its impact on white students is problematic....

Read more at the Boston Globe.