Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Was Justice Scalia's Discussion of "Lesser Schools" Racist?

By Michael Dorf

My latest Verdict column discusses an issue that has been in the background in all of the Supreme Court's affirmative action cases in the last dozen or so years, and which resurfaced during last week's oral argument in Fisher v. UT-Austin (Fisher II): Whether to characterize the Texas Ten Percent Plan (TPP) as "race-neutral" or "race-based." UT admits most of its class under the TPP, but then supplements the class with students admitted under a program of "holistic" review that includes race as a factor.

Whether that use of race is narrowly tailored (and thus constitutional) depends in part on whether UT can achieve its goal of a diverse student body using just the TPP--but that is only a useful comparator if the TPP is itself race-neutral. As I explain in the column, most of the conservative Justices do not really have a good answer to the charge by Justice Ginsburg that--taking them at their own word regarding "color-blindness"--the TPP is race-based. However, I note how Justice Kennedy may be different. He has previously suggested that he thinks there is a difference between taking account of race for purposes of integration, so long as "race-conscious" measures are not "race-classificatory" ones.

Here I want to consider another issue that arose during the oral argument and its aftermath: whether Justice Scalia invoked racist stereotypes of African Americans, as some prominent Democrats charged, and as some Scalia defenders denied. To evaluate the charge, let's look at the key language. With ellipses used to denote brief efforts by UT attorney Greg Garre to interject, here is what Justice Scalia said.
There are those who contend that it does not benefit African­-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less­ advanced school, a less a slower­ track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the ­­most of the black scientists in this country don't come from schools like the University of Texas.  . . .They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they're ­being pushed ahead in ­­classes that are too fast for them.  . . . I'm just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe some ­­you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less. And ­­I don't think it stands to reason that it's a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.
If Justice Scalia had just come up with the foregoing on his own, the charge of racism would be undeniable. But of course he did not completely make it up. Justice Scalia was asking Mr. Garre about an argument set forth in a brief (and also a book) by UCLA law professor Richard Sander and attorney/journalist Stuart Taylor, Jr. They argue that race-based affirmative action systematically “mismatches” minority students who would thrive at the schools that would admit them through race-blind processes by placing them in more competitive schools, where they struggle academically. Here is how Sander and Taylor describe the phenomenon in a 2012 article in The Atlantic:
The mismatch effect happens when a school extends to a student such a large admissions preference -- sometimes because of a student's athletic prowess or legacy connection to the school, but usually because of the student's race -- that the student finds himself in a class where he has weaker academic preparation than nearly all of his classmates. The student who would flourish at, say, Wake Forest or the University of Richmond, instead finds himself at Duke, where the professors are not teaching at a pace designed for him -- they are teaching to the "middle" of the class, introducing terms and concepts at a speed that is unnerving even to the best-prepared student. 
The student who is underprepared relative to others in that class falls behind from the start and becomes increasingly lost as the professor and his classmates race ahead. His grades on his first exams or papers put him at the bottom of the class. Worse, the experience may well induce panic and self-doubt, making learning even harder.
The mismatch thesis is highly controversial and contested. One of the most sophisticated statistical wizards in the legal academy--Stanford law professor Dan Ho--thinks Sander and Taylor are wrong. Sander thinks Ho is wrong, but then, Ho thinks Sander is wrong in thinking him wrong. Other leading sophisticated empirical scholars share Ho's doubts about the methodology underlying the empirical claims of Sander and Taylor. Sander in turn has his doubts about the doubts.

So it's quite possible that Sander and Taylor are just wrong. But even if so, that doesn't make it illegitimate, much less racist, for Justice Scalia to have asked Garre about their work. Garre could have pointed to the work of Ho and others casting doubt on the empirical claims. Or he could have said that even if Sander and Taylor are right--and that there is some of what they call mismatch--the benefits to African American students and to the educational experience of everyone at the university nonetheless outweigh any harms from mismatch. Yet because Garre, along with most casual observers of the exchange, apparently understood Justice Scalia to be saying something quite ugly--i.e., that African American students should have to make do with separate and unequal schools--he didn't address the mismatch thesis on the merits.

Was that Justice Scalia's fault? Partly, yes. Whereas Sander and Taylor are careful not to denigrate the somewhat less competitive schools where they think that mismatched students at the most elite schools would thrive, Justice Scalia describes these institutions as "less advanced," "slower track," and simply "lesser."

That is certainly elitism, but is it racism? I don't think so. Justice Scalia was, in my view, insufficiently attentive to the way in which his words would be understood. What he said could easily be misunderstood--and in fact was misunderstood--to mean that in general, African American students are unqualified to attend elite universities. In context, I think it clear that he meant only that, while there are African American students who have the academic preparation to thrive at elite universities, those universities don't stop at admitting these academically prepared students, but also admit students who lack adequate preparation.

That may or may not be true. In my experience teaching in universities for nearly a quarter century, there is only a weak (albeit positive) correlation between entering credentials and ultimate success. But again, Justice Scalia was entitled to ask whether the mismatch claim is true. And the question itself did not imply any sort of claim of inherent racial characteristics--as opposed to disparities in wealth, education, and experience--as the cause of the potential mismatch.

Accordingly, I score Justice Scalia's statements in the Fisher II argument elitist and racially insensitive, but not racist.

Postscript: I wrote the foregoing post over the weekend but delayed putting it up until now so that it would go out with the column. In the interim Geof Stone said more or less the same thing on HuffPo. Neither Geof nor I often come to Justice Scalia's defense, so the fact that we both do so in this instance suggests that we're onto something.


ghkozen said...

Your analysis looks at Scalia's question in isolation. While the question itself may not be conclusive evidence of bigotry in the abstract, I think it makes much more sense to look at the question in the context of Scalia's other statements and rulings. While it's almost 12:30 here and I don't want to do the research specifically to come up with specific quotes, (I may tomorrow) I think it becomes far harder to make the argument that Justice Scalia isn't an unreconstructed racist when his entire career is reviewed holistically.

Michael C. Dorf said...

That's fair enough. Most of the critics were claiming that what Justice Scalia said on this particular occasion was racist. I took them to be saying that it would have been racist regardless of who said it. That claim, I think, is unjustified, and that's all I said here.


with different explanations could be different perceptions, and therefore there must be a good discussion in order to avoid misunderstanding, thanks for sharing.

By Racking Indonesian

Kilo said...

As a non-lawyer, I don't know whether these issues might be less suggestive than they seem, but there were a few bits which pushed me in the direction of strongly suspecting a racist element to Justice Scalia's comments. First, I agree that it's perfectly legitimate and non-racist to bring up the mismatch theory. However, by asking the question about it at a time in the oral argument at which it seemed to have very little to do with the immediately previous discussion, it gave the impression of being an argument which Justice Scalia knew going into oral arguments he would be asking about. That's fine on its own, but the way he asked his question displayed very little awareness of the existence of contrary evidence, both as cited in the above post and also, as counsel pointed out, in Grutter. He had all the time in the world to ask a clerk to do a quick Google search and let him know if there was controversy or relevant data, but he doesn't seem to have bothered even with that. Further, as the last question asked (and at some length), it seems like something counsel may not have had as much time to explore as would have been ideal. Taken together, these make it seem that Justice Scalia just isn't that interested in responses to the mismatch hypothesis, presumably because he regards it as having very high probability before the data are in, so the data would need to be implausibly strong to sway him. That seems difficult to account for without racism of some kind.

Secondly, he asked about blacks rather than those admitted under the program. Absent some reason to think the mismatch theory applies more to blacks than to legacies, athletes, pianists, or non-black minority groups, this seems very odd, and it's what caused the misunderstanding of his comments. I can't think of a good reason to single out blacks.

Taken together, this leaves me thinking that those who claim Justice Scalia's comments displayed racism were probably right, but that, in making their inadequate arguments to which you've responded above, they were also effectively trying to move our standards about what counts as a racist comment. I wouldn't want simply entertaining the mismatch theory to count as racist, and am glad of your pushback against that.

Shag from Brookline said...

I welcome non-lawyer Kilo's comment.

Query: regarding Mike's:

"Garre could have pointed to the work of Ho and others casting doubt on the empirical claims."

do we know if Scalia was aware of the writings of Ho and others? If he did, would that make Scalia more racially insensitive? Keep in mind the presence of Justice Thomas and his previously expressed thought of his personal experiences.

Regarding journalist and lawyer Stuart Taylor, he has demonstrated a bias on affirmative action for decades with once frequent TV appearances.

David Ricardo said...

The major disagreement that I and many others would have with Mr. Dorf’s conclusion that

“But again, Justice Scalia was entitled to ask whether the mismatch claim is true. And the question itself did not imply any sort of claim of inherent racial characteristics--as opposed to disparities in wealth, education, and experience--as the cause of the potential mismatch.”

is that no, Justice Scalia was not entitled to ask about the mismatch claims in the oral arguments because we fail to see any relevance whatsoever of the mismatch issue with respect to the issue before the Court. The issue before the Court is whether or not the policy of the University of Texas was Constitutional. The merits of the policy are completely and totally the responsibility of the administrators and voters of the state of Texas. Whether or not the policy is good policy or bad policy has no bearing on its legality, an argument Justice Thomas used in Lawrence to defend his opinion in support of the right of Texas to jail gay men and women (ok, not the most comforting example but you get the point).

Certainly the Justices of the Supreme Court are by education, background, experience and training completely incapable of rendering an intelligent evaluation and assessment of such policies. By inserting judgment about the policy itself into the discussion the Court removed itself from its judicial role and assumed the role of school administration for the University of Texas. If the mismatch research determined that the policy was incontrovertibly highly positive would this have made the policy any more Constitutionally acceptable? Of course not.

So no, Justice Scalia was not entitled to ask whether mismatch claims are true within the context of determining a valid decision on the Constitutionality of the University of Texas program and CJ Roberts’s comment about the role of diversity in a physics class was also outside the relevance of the Supreme Court oral arguments. That he and Justice Scalia did make their comments does not mean they are racists in the historical context of that term. But one can be reasonably argue that the comments expose a belief on the part of these two Justices that African Americans are simply not capable in general of performing academically at the ‘stronger’ institutions of higher learning, and if these comments have no role in the legal process of determining the validity of the University of Texas program then what other explanation can there be other than a prejudicial view on the part of these Justices towards African Americans? If the comments are ‘elitist’ as Mr. Dorf acknowledges then one must conclude that the ‘elite’ in this situation are white Americans and the ‘non-elite’ are black Americans. If it looks like racism, sounds like racism, tastes like racism and talks like racism, then maybe it is racism just in different clothing then white robes and hoods.

Joe said...

Anyway, the column does a good job to suggest that the deciding vote -- Kennedy -- has a fine tuned approach that for various reasons both sides might deem again to be blunt stupid. A sort of "baby bear" approach. I think it has some degree of merit though it would help if he found a school program to uphold using it.

Joe said...

The "reviewed holistically" approach of the first comment seems quite fitting - isn't that what supposed to be how race is treated now from Bakke to Fisher I?

I don't think the criticism of Scalia as a whole unfair (especially if people show their work). Scalia didn't just "ask" but make conclusions -- one can read the transcript. As to if he was "racist," as noted at Balkanization in a quick comment, would he think legacies such as Bush or Kennedy would be better off at less competitive schools? I do think a reasonable case can be made that we cannot just take his comment in a vacuum here as others note. That is overly artificial. At the very least, if comes out as de facto racist and others here make a good argument to take the qualifier off.

But, at the end of the day, the defense here really doesn't help him THAT much. Bluntly, I think it is a difference of him being a big fat jerk or just wrong and kinda a jerk.

Con Law Junkie said...

My first thought when I read about Scalia'a line of questioning was: how relevant is it to the issue at hand? (I see that another commenter feels the same way.) The lack of genuine or meaningful relevancy and the way he worded his inquiries, which is telling in a Freudian-slip kind of way, are what make the whole thing distasteful and suspect.

There were a ton of amicus briefs, yet Scalia had to focus on this one in particular (yes, knowing that this theory is a hot potato in some respects)? That says a lot.

Yes, yes, many recognize that lifetime appointments ensure that federal, Art. III judges can do their jobs without fear or reprisal---say, in relation to the court of public or political opinion. But that is not what is going on here, I would argue. Honing in on a quasi-relevant argument found in one amicus brief (out of many) and using precious, limited time at oral argument to personally showcase it is all about the personality of the Justice, not principle. Ther was no "mistake" involved in his actions.

Lastly, it came from a Justice who abhors when the Supreme Court acts as a legislature of 9 and overrides the will of people, yet there he is in oral argument second-guessing the wisdom of UT's admission policies and goals as a general matter (while trying to make it seem relevant to the issue of the constitutionally of the plan). I guess the seeming hypocrisy makes his line of questioning dubious and distasteful as well.

Michael C. Dorf said...

Lots of interesting comments here. I won't weigh in on all of them (because I have exams to grade) but I do want to respond briefly to David Ricardo's claim that mismatch is irrelevant to Fisher. He is mistaken. It's relevant. The Court's cases say the govt can only justify race-based affirmative action if it is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling interest. Even the Justices who took the most permissive view--Brennan, joined by White, Marshall, and Blackmun in the Bakke case--thought that such a program would have to substantially advance important government interests. Thus, whether affirmative action succeeds as a policy matter is relevant to the question of whether it is constitutional.

Against that, it could be said that Justice Scalia wouldn't allow affirmative action even if mismatch is false. That's probably right, but Justices frequently participate in discussions about the proper application of a legal standard, even if they themselves don't favor that legal standard. E.g., Brennan and Marshall thought the death penalty always unconstitutional, but they often argued that particular instances of the death penalty were invalid, even assuming the doctrines to which they objected were valid.

Kilo said...

I'm not sure I follow David Ricardo's reasoning. If the mismatch hypothesis is true and the harms it causes irreversible and unavoidable, then we fail to address historical injustices or remedy modern harms (the usual goals of such programs) using affirmative action. If affirmative action serves no legitimate government purposes, we never even reach the question of whether it's the best policy to serve those purposes.

That said, the irreversibility and unavoidability is another issue which Justice Scalia didn't mention, and, were he not racist, should have. If his concern is that blacks admitted under holistic review are less prepared than their peers, rather than of innately lower ability, he should be interested in the possibility of remediation. If a school can identify students who are poorly prepared but would be assets to the student body if brought up to speed, you'd think an institution dedicated to teaching people would be ideal for responding to that task by bringing them up to speed itself. At least some schools already have remedial classes intended to do just that. If you're interested in potential limitations of the mismatch hypothesis, you ought to be interested in whether such remediation works.

If, instead, you assume that blacks can't be brought up to speed, you believe that blacks have lower ability, not just poorer preparation. Conceivably you might believe that poorer preparation has left them with lower ability, due to critical periods of learning, so even that isn't necessarily the worst kind of racism. But the view that, insofar as American society generally squanders the potential of its black citizens at a greater rate than its white ones and this effect is irreversible, you're committed to the view that white adults are currently, on average, irremediably smarter than black adults. That's less racist than the belief that the lower ability of black Americans is genetic, but isn't it still pretty racist?

Joe said...

"from a Justice who abhors when the Supreme Court acts as a legislature of 9 and overrides the will of people"

Not really -- there are those who are consistently for judicial restraint but he isn't one of them. Yes, you might get that from some of his rhetoric, but at the end of the day, Scalia accepts second-guessing when he thinks it is compelled, here from inferences of greatly disputed understandings of what the Constitution requires.

Richard said...

I believe that Justice Scalia is racially insensitive but he has the right to bring up in oral argument Professor Sanders' theory despite the obvious flaws in the Professor's methods. From his ruling in the Univ of Michigan cases, I also believe that Justice Scalia thinks that achieving diversity should be an insignificant goal in a law school's mission.

I think Justice Scalia's track records of hiring primarily Harvard Law graduates as his law clerk hires and his public comments have shown that he is an elitist. h

Ben Alpers said...

Echoing what other say above: is something not racist because it appears in a work that claims to be social science? A view that black people are, as a class, less capable than whites is a racist one, whether it's put forth in THE BELL CURVE or a David Duke speech. And just because one is willing (for whatever reason) to entertain the truth of a racist claim doesn't mean that the claim isn't racist.

As I read the OP, it is attempting to answer the title question "Was Justice Scalia's Discussion of 'Lesser Schools' Racist?" with an evaluation of whether or not Scalia's claim -- which was presented in a "some say" fashion -- represented what others have indeed said (it does) and whether some people take this view seriously as social science (they do). It seems to me that this conclusion is entirely irrelevant to determining whether or not Scalia's argument and/or Sander and Taylor's argument are racist.

David Ricardo said...

Thanks to Mr. Dorf for his explanation of why the ‘mismatch’ might be relevant in the Court’s determination of whether or not the University of Texas’s admission policy would pass Constitutional muster. No one would disagree that the program would have to be successful in order to advance important government interests. But I would still take issue with the relevance of the mismatch role because I believe that Mr. Dorf errs in his presentation of the issue of what is the ‘compelling interest’ in this case.

In his reply Mr. Dorf states that

“The Court's cases say the govt can only justify race-based affirmative action if it is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling interest. Even the Justices who took the most permissive view--Brennan, joined by White, Marshall, and Blackmun in the Bakke case--thought that such a program would have to substantially advance important government interests. Thus, whether affirmative action succeeds as a policy matter is relevant to the question of whether it is constitutional.”

But this is not an affirmative action case where the government’s compelling interest is to rectify previous discrimination and to allow for the fact that African Americans may be disadvantaged in the admissions process due to lingering effects of racial bias and segregation. The stated and accepted compelling interest in the University of Texas’s policy is to create greater diversity in its undergraduate student body. And it would seem that this is a constitutionally acceptable goal given Grutter.

Thus the question with respect to whether the success of the UT policy is relevant to the discussion would seem to be the question of whether or not the policy achieves the compelling interest of increasing diversity not whether or not the policy results in better outcomes for African Americans. If Justice Scalia had cited evidence that the UT policy was not achieving its compelling interest of increasing diversity in the student body then his comments along those lines and citation of evidence to that effect would have been acceptable, non-prejudicial, relevant and possibly even determinant. But instead the Justice introduced policy evaluation that was outside the issue in the case (I understand the argument could be made that the UT policy was just a stalking horse to introduce racial balancing and that there is the issue of whether of not diversity is a sufficiently strong enough goal as to allow consideration of race in admissions, but that is not what Scalia’s comments and the resulting discussion have been about).

While there may have been many reasons for the remarks, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Justice Scalia’s patronizing comments stem from a deeply seated racial prejudice that he and his like-thinking cohorts know what is best for African Americans.

Eric C. Welch said...

Paul Thomas has some interesting comments relating to educational negligence and affirmative action re Scalia's remarks over at

A couple of quotes: "A significant number of students are admitted to colleges and universities for the benefit of the institution (full-pay students and athletes, as the most prominent examples). Often, these populations fall into the deficit category of “remedial,” or would be the exact type of student Scalia has now further marginalized with the damning blanket of racism." and "vulnerable populations of students admitted to colleges and universities (often black, brown, poor, and English language learners)—those who need higher education the most, in fact—are being neglected by the very institutions who admit them, often after actively recruiting them (again, the athletes)."

As the parent of six black children, the expectations of teachers are a real problem. Over and over I saw how my kids were assumed to be deficient even though they were often smarter than the rest of the class. As a society I fear we will never be race-blind so what we need to do is focus on strong educational support at the lower levels, especially high school and then let all students compete for college entrance, but colleges (especially the elite ones where students can educate themselves with little help from professors who most often delegate that teaching to grad students anyway

Affirmative action has outlived its usefulness and I fear liberals (of which I count myself), in particular have been much too paternalistic toward the disadvantaged and make the *false* assumption that black students aren’t as smart as white ones and therefore should be admitted even though their qualifications (their words not mine) may not be as high. The whole qualifications/merit debate is silly anyway since universities have given preference to all sorts of groups from children of faculty to athletes to some with special abilities, many of whom would never meet the supposed minimum standards which usually just measure ability to take tests anyway. Not to mention that every black, Hispanic, woman student who is now on a major university campus is immediately labeled as an affirmative action admission even though he/she may be far better prepared than his/her white colleagues.

We also have to get beyond this idea that you have to go to Harvard or Yale to get a good education. I’m an Ivy League grad who has worked in community colleges and if you want superior teaching go to a community college. At elite four-year schools you get lots of bright kids who can basically teach themselves and are led by grad students who often has less preparation and graduate credits than are the minimums required to teach in community colleges. Universities have got to do a better job at teaching its students. That’s the point of the article I cited.

David Ricardo said...

Mr. Welch writes an admirable post, but I would disagree with his conclusion that it is the liberals who are being paternalistic here. The decision of whether any or all of his six black children should apply for admission to the University of Texas at Austin should be made by the children and parents, and the decision of whether to admit any or all of them should be made by the officials of the university. It is acceptable for those officials to admit any or all of them if in their professional opinion bringing those individuals into the student body would create a diversity that is beneficial to all of the university community even if those individuals are not in the top 10% of their high school graduating class.

It is Justice Scalia and his conservative ilk that would consign those children to the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople even though they have zero knowledge of the students, the parents, their background, their abilities, their extra curricular activities, their hobbies, their interests or any of their characteristics other than race, which is apparently the sole the determining factor in their position.

And finally, the validity or lack of validity of the mismatch hypothesis is also largely irrelevant here. As a statistician I can state with a 99.9999% degree of confidence that one cannot apply the characteristics of a population to a sample size of one. Even if one admits that as a group admitting less qualified individuals to an elite university causes that group as a whole to achieve less than what they would achieve at a lesser school, that is no justification for concluding that any one single individual who is in that group would do less. Sorry, statistics just don’t work that way. Nor should society. A truly democratic nation judges people on their individual characteristics, not on the characteristics of the groups to whom they belong.

Kilo said...

"As a statistician I can state with a 99.9999% degree of confidence…"

As someone who isn't a professional statistician, that's ridiculous.

"…that one cannot apply the characteristics of a population to a sample size of one."

Which is irrelevant. The sample size isn't one; the program affects lots of people. If, on the whole, it's bad for the minority students admitted thereby, one of the possible arguments for its effectiveness in addressing a legitimate government interest is defeated. That's not an illegitimate point to raise, even if there is another legitimate government interest it's also purported to serve, because we'd expect arguments against the program serving any such interest to proceed one interest at a time. There's nothing wrong with preparing for the contingency that the diversity issue will be found either not to be a legitimate interest or that it isn't served by this program.

Suppose it were true that, on average, this program is bad for minority applicants, but that, as you say, there are some individuals for whom it is beneficial. As a statistician, you presumably understand that the more such students there are and the more the program helps them, the worse it must hurt the remainder. Shouldn't we regard such a program as not serving the interest of redressing past or present inequities if the overall effect it has it to make the problem worse?

CJColucci said...

A long time ago, I studied this issue and found that whatever method of admission an institution used, approximately 50% of those admitted ended up in the bottom half of the class. It's possible that a school that uses race-conscious criteria rather than a "by the numbers" approach may end up with a disproportionate number of minorities in the bottom 50%, but this did not seem to me to be a significant problem, if true.
In the course of my study, I also found what law schools taught, whether elite or fourth-tier institutions, was -- wait for it -- law -- mainly decisions issued by judge of varying levels of intellect and statutes enacted by legislators about whose intellects the less said the better.
So perhaps an affirmative action minority admittee to the University of Michigan will end up in the bottom third of the class there while he would have been in the middle third at Michigan State and the top third at Thomas Cooley. I don't pretend to know which alternative would better serve the student in the job market, but I think we can safely leave that to the student to decide. As for the education itself, I suspect that anyone who can finish near the middle of the class at a third-tier law school can handle the material anywhere, the only difference being how many classmates handle it even better.
I suspect that at the bottom tier of law schools, affirmative action admittees might, in fact, be unqualified, as opposed to merely being not quite as good as other classmates, but at any reasonably selective school, a large number of applicants who could succeed are rejected.
I wonder what Clarence Thomas thought about all this?

Joe said...

Mr. Welch's (along with others) comments are appreciated, but I'm not really sure where his specifically take us.

First, "Affirmative action has outlived its usefulness" is overinclusive, especially given the specific concern involved. "Affirmative action" is a range of programs and until people suddenly stop having special needs and barriers that at times need "affirmative" action, it will continue to have a use.

Second, "black students aren’t as smart as white ones and therefore should be admitted even though their qualifications (their words not mine) may not be as high" to me (a "liberal") is questionable. My basic mind-set is that a 80 from someone at a crummy school etc. is not quite equal to a 80 from a great one. I don't think "black students aren't as smart" as much as (insert group in question) having certain barriers that artificially affect their rankings.

Next, it is noted that qualifications are exaggerated anyway given all the criteria used for admissions. Definitely. So, where does this take us? Again, why specifically are 'blacks' the ones who are supposed to go to other schools? UT isn't Harvard to begin with, btw, but anyways, why should Austin blacks burdened by racial discrimination or providing one piece of the diversity pie go to a "lesser school" but not some athlete or whatever?

The same applies to the assumptions -- yes, some black or Hispanic or Native American OR football player will be assumed to be less qualified if such criteria are used. But, ignorance alone shouldn't stop us here. And, it goes in both directions -- many whites are given too much credit, including Ivy league types.


BTW, the Sweatt v. Painter (1950) involves the University of Texas (Law School) and is to me an interesting "book end" of sorts here.

Shag from Brookline said...

A NYTimes Op-Ed today responds to CJ Roberts' question why a Black student in a physics class, written by a Black female astrophysicist. Of course, the CJ's question came from out of space.