For those following Maryland Dad, it’s been a real fun adventure on Tumblr…I’ll be switching over to a new CMS that allows me more freedom, technically speaking and saying buh-bye to the Tumble community on this URL.
Feel free to follow the new goings on at the revamped marylanddad.org or my wibblings and reblogs of a grown up prep life at customsandcourtesies.org.
Radiolab’s show on race, Ally’s Choice, while culturally relevant, is exactly why I stopped listening to This American Life. It tells us nothing new about human beings or the world around us. It offers no conclusions, which is fine for Radiolab…except that this isn’t the pure science or mystery that Jad and Robert usually serve up. I really hope this isn’t the beginning of a format change like when TAL changed from quirky stories about real people to “issues based” pseudo-journalism.
The only known video footage of Anne Frank
I can’t think of any reason why someone would not reblog this.
If this isn’t interesting/sad to you, then I don’t know what you like in life.
(ू•ᴗ•ू❁) queued - checking out every single new follower (ू•ᴗ•ू❁)
This is history.
Proper crab picking for your summer edification.
Many people with whom I work and some friends in and out of the legal profession are humming about Fisher vs. University of Texas. Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion that affirmative action was pretty much “meh.” It made a procedural point about summary judgments (decisions with no trial or testimony) which most people interpreted as an approval of affirmative action.
For those without a law degree, I have attempted to decode the opinion below. All normal caveats apply. This is not legal advice and you can’t count on me to be right 100% of the time, so just simmer down if my Latin is rusty. Justice Kennedy is paraphrased as follows:
The University of Texas (UT) at Austin really wants a certain number of non-white people to go to their school. We don’t know what the number is, but it’s bigger than the number that go there now.
Abigail Fisher, a white girl, applied to UT, but didn’t get in, so she sued the school. She says being white hurt her chances because the school considers race during the application process. She lost, and then appealed and lost again, but we think the second court got it wrong, so we’re kicking it back.
UT is in Austin, TX. It’s a pretty good school. In 2008, Abigail Fisher and 29,500 other people applied. 12,843 got in, but 6,715 actually went, but Abigail wasn’t accepted.
UT has tried three times to get the admissions thing right. At one point, it was your grades and your race, but in 1996, the school had its hand slapped because that system was considered unconstitutional according to the Equal Protection clause of the 14Th Amendment.
Then the school started considering all kinds of things like glee club, how poor you are, and if you speak English at home. Meanwhile, the Texas State Legislature decided that all kids in the top 10% of their high school class should be automatically admitted to state schools by law. So UT changed the admission process to incorporate the new law. Non-white enrollment went up. Then a court case in NY set a precedent that schools actually could use race as a factor in admissions and UT added race to the “all kinds of things” method. That version of the process is the relevant one in this case.
The University says there’s a certain amount of non-white people that make its school diverse, and although they don’t know what that number is, they know it’s a lot. To get more, they use a mathematical system akin to J. Evans Pritchard’s analysis of poetry in Dead Poets Society involving grids and axes. It’s all very scientific. If you make the cut, you’re in. If you don’t, you might be in, but UT is going to look at “all kinds of things,” and race is one of them. In an ironic twist, Max Fischer from Rushmore might have been accepted on the basis of extracurricular activities alone.
So anyway, Abigail applied and didn’t get in. She sued the University of Texas in District Court (a federal court) and said that considering race is kinda racist and violates her 14th Amendment rights. The Court of Appeals said the University could do what it wants because diversity is good and because the University had done a good job trying to figure out if a given student was diverse enough. Abigail asked the Court of Appeals to hear her side again, and they said no, so she took the case to the Supreme Court.
Things to Consider
There are three court cases in the past that talk about using race as a factor in university admissions. In one of those cases in 1978, the Supreme Court basically said equal protection under the law is just that, equal protection. Nobody should get more protection that anyone else. Attempting to balance things out is will always result in problems with the 14th Amendment. Universities need to make sure they’re considering race to enhance diversity (an inherently good thing), not to “fix” racism. There are a lot of things they should be considering besides race anyway.
In the second and third court cases, the Supreme Court decided that race was a good enough factor to guarantee diversity, so universities should just do it, but that they need to make sure they are doing it in a way that doesn’t give numerical advantages or use quotas. You could get sued for that!
In a couple of other cases, some more general, but equally valid points are made. Namely, that any distinction made between citizens based on their ancestry is inherently bad, and goes against the tradition of the United States. These won’t hold up in court for very long because that’s effectively racial profiling.
The thing about justifying racial identification of any kind is that it needs to advance a compelling interest of the government. There’s no valid modern example of this (think WWII internment camps), except that the world is a racist place. Universities shouldn’t educate on that basis and so must seek diversity, which is difficult, and so sometimes they need to use race as an indicator.
After Abigail Fisher lost the first time in court, her case went to the Court of Appeals. That court should have decided whether UT’s practice was legal, but they didn’t make that decision. They didn’t feel they could adequately measure the merits of the system, so they only concerned themselves with the intention of the university. They felt UT had acted in good faith and that it was up to them to exercise their discretion when using race as a factor in admissions.
We don’t feel that was the correct question to answer. Since both sides of this case asked for a judgment from the Court of Appeals without a trial, we think they should go back and think about it more.
- Justice “JK” Kennedy
Justice Thomas’ and Ginsburg’s opinions, concurring and dissenting, respectively, include some points worth mentioning.
Justice Thomas stated in his concurring opinion that, “the argument that educational benefits justify racial discrimination was advanced in support of racial segregation in the 1950’s… And just as the alleged educational benefits of segregation were insufficient to justify racial discrimination then…the alleged educational benefits of diversity cannot justify racial discrimination today.” He concludes, “The University’s arguments today are no more persuasive than they were 60 years ago.”
Justice Ginsburg must have thought the whole court was kidding itself. She argues, “Texas’ percentage plan was adopted with racially segregated neighborhoods and schools front and center stage,” continuing, “It is race consciousness, not blindness to race, that drives such plans,” pointing out that “…if universities cannot explicitly include race as a factor, many may ‘resort to camouflage’ to ‘maintain their minority enrollment’.” Justice Ginsburg’s opinion was that it’s better to candidly disclose consideration of race, than to conceal it. She would not have returned the case for further analysis.