Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today released Affirmative Action in American Law Schools, a critical evaluation of the use of racial preferences in American law school admissions. From the press release:
This Commission finds that "admitting students into law schools for which they might not academically be prepared could harm their academic performance and hinder their ability to obtain secure and gainful employment..." Moreover, the Commission finds that racial preferences might also contribute to racial income and wealth disparities. The Commission expresses particular concern about the lack of transparency in law school admissions, urging legislation to require federally-funded law schools to publicly disclose their use of racial preferences.
The Commission admonished that the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions of the Bar has adopted a diversity standard that tacitly prods law schools to use racial preferences in student admissions. The Commission criticizes the ABA standard because it "substitutes the judgment of the Council for that of the law schools in deciding whether diversity is essential to their educational mission."
Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds commented, "Race-based admissions have been found to harm minority law students by setting them up for failure. Law schools that continue to use racial preferences despite this evidence should at least disclose the risks of academic mismatch to minority student applicants." Continuing, Chairman Reynolds said, "A true civil rights strategy would focus on these students much earlier in their educational development, rather than providing them with inadequate training and then using preferential treatment to admit them into schools at which they are likely to fail."
For the full 220-page report, see here. For press and blogosphere coverage, see:
- Chronicle of Higher Education: Civil-Rights Panel Wants Law Schools Required to Disclose Key Affirmative-Action Data, by Peter Schmidt
- Discriminations, by John Rosenberg:
- National Law Journal: Commission Targets Affirmative-Action "Mismatch" in Law School Admissions, by Leigh Jones
- ProfessorBainbridge.com: Affirmative Action in Law Schools Critiqued by USCRC, by Stephen Bainbridge
- The Right Coast, by Gail Heriot (USD):
- The Volokh Conspiracy: More on Whether Affirmative Action in Law Schools Backfires on Prospective Black Lawyers, by David Bernstein (George Mason)
- Wall Street Journal: Affirmative Action Backfires, by Gail Heriot (USD)