I’m afraid you may be right, Deacon. The heart of the government’s briefs is the contention that there are race-neutral alternatives, like Texas’ “top ten percent” formula, that can achieve the goal of diversity. The Washington Post lost no time in headlining the news that “Race-Neutral Plans Have Limits in Aiding Diversity, Experts Say.” The Post’s “experts” point out, helpfully, that if the goal is to have a certain percentage of a college class be black, nothing will achieve that goal as effectively as a quota. The despicable Mary Frances Berry, chairman of the Commission on Civil Rights, says–with unimpeachable logic–“I don’t have a problem with anybody trying economic, class-based affirmative action programs. They don’t substitute for race, but they have important effects in overcoming wealth disparities. But it seems to me that if racial diversity is a worthy goal, rather than people squirming around to address race, they should acknowledge there is nothing wrong with giving a preference for race.”
To make matters worse, Condoleezza Rice now says she thinks there are occasions when “it is appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse student body.” So the Administration’s policy appears to be incoherent, turning, perhaps, on the fact that the University of Michigan assigned so many preference points–20, approximately equivalent to a full GPA point on a four-point scale–to skin color. As to the fundamental issue–whether skin color can constitutionally be considered a qualification for admission to a public college or graduate school–the Administration appears to have come down on the wrong side.
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