Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2003/ 13 Shevat, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

"My ex is a minority, so I deserve special treatment" | A law school admissions committee, steeped in its special-track minority candidates, came upon a file that had nothing about the applicant's "ethnic" background. A faculty member followed up with the candidate in this phone conversation:

"We noticed you checked off the box for 'Hispanic' in your law school application, . . . Could you tell me a little about yourself in that regard?"

"My ex-husband was Hispanic, and I had a baby by him."

"We do not view a woman who has had a baby by a Hispanic father as having acquired the father's ethnic status. . . . we will go ahead and handle your application under our non-diversity applications process."

Prof. John Martinez, Univ. of Utah, tells this story in, "Trivializing Diversity: The Problem of Overinclusion in Affirmative Action Programs." (Harvard Blackletter Law Journal). Hey! There's no Harvard Whiteletter Law Journal, or even whiteletter law.

Such a story should be an epiphany for the thinking man, woman, or gender disorder victim. Affirmative action (AA) has gone amok, causing racial gaming in law school admissions. Instead, Professor Martinez advocates the use of deprivation factors, in lieu of race, as a proxy for achieving diversity. Social justice is served, he claims. Marxists are always so altruistic.

Under deprivation admissions, the hard-knock life counts. Oh, the boxes we'll see for deprivation screening: "Unwed mother - white father," "Unwed mother - minority father," "Reformed crack addict," "White male who pays child support --ex-wife, wench," "Molested as a child," "Molested by a priest as a child."

Trotting down paths other than that of ability reduces us to quibbling one-upmanship. Scores and GPAs be damned, pitiful souls, arise! Prof. Martinez assumes that deprivation runs along racial lines. It's AA without nasty constitutional issues.

AA, a misguided tour de force, has invincibility because the "racist" label is hurled at those who dare point to its flaws. But flawed it is. In the 95 scholarly articles on AA that I reviewed, there are several admissions, as it were, about AA's deficiencies.

First, race is not a good proxy for sacred diversity. Law schools using race quotas discovered that they were admitting too many minorities whose parents were brain surgeons, thus depriving them of the ghetto flavor they crave in their classrooms.

Second, minority admissions programs brought unqualified and marginal candidates. A Law School Admission Council study found grade point average and LSAT score "were the strongest predictors of bar exam passage." Lowering both for minority admits leaves them struggling to pass the bar. Minority pass rates, including second- and third-tries, are 10% below whites'.

Law professors are undaunted. Don't eliminate special-track admissions; toss bar exams, substitute apprenticeships, count pro bono work, or give take-home exams. How about graham crackers during the exam? Heck, if they've been deprived enough, just make them lawyers. AA proponents create a world with no merit or distinction, except in race. A nation nearly divided itself and lost its sons to banish such contemptible divisiveness and genetic judgments.

Racial quotas and special admissions programs drive a wedge between Americans, creating racial tension. Jesse Helms ran an ad during the 1990 elections that depicted a white worker crumbling a job-rejection letter while the narrator explained that a less qualified minority applicant got the job.

The ad resounded with voters because Americans think AA is wrong. Gallup's five surveys in the last decade find that 84% of Americans believe ability should be the determining factor. Only 10-11% feel minorities should be given preferential treatment. Americans understand what Justice O'Connor wrote in Metro Broadcasting v. FCC, "(a)t the heart of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual, or national class."

Law school admissions are on the tips of many tongues because the U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear the Bollinger v. Grutter case in which a white female with a higher LSAT and GPA was denied admission to the University of Michigan law school even as minorities with lower numbers were admitted.

Mr. Bush should take the same position as president that he took as governor of Texas. Bush opposed racial preferences in public universities, instead admitting students who graduated in the top 10% at their high schools. Diversity increased.

I hope that's not waffling I smell coming from the White House. Mr. Bush, who once said quotas "pit one against another," but stinging from Lottgate, hesitates. When it comes to equal rights, even pauses in conviction are troublesome.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


01/07/03: Why libs will never have a Rush Limbaugh
01/02/03: The year that was
12/26/02: Capital offenses, power and Harry Potter
12/20/02: Mundane superlatives cause trouble
12/09/02: Let the sacking begin
12/05/02: Amazing Grace that saved me from my CO2 emissions
11/27/02: Free speech, Harvard, and First Amendment looneys
11/25/02: Eminem culture
11/14/02: Hollywood trash
11/04/02: Patron Kennedy Saints
10/28/02: What the snipers and Moose taught
10/22/02: Nobel Prizes and other ventriloquist acts
10/17/02: The window on the liberal mind and war
10/14/02: Leaders don't change; followers do
10/07/02: Do it yourself
09/27/02: Hosers rise again
09/20/02: Girly gridiron
09/13/02: Erudite buffoons
09/11/02: One year later, crass demands, greed, and litigation are back --- but rights are diminished
09/06/02: Public schools: An unqualified success
08/30/02: The Shakespearean tragedy of affirmative action
08/23/02: Hollywood Joe's admission
08/15/02: Cheapskates
08/08/02: Ode to a coal miner
08/02/02: Sarah Brady's gun gift
07/26/02: Don't do it, Tiger
07/18/02: Reality Muppets
07/09/02: We're all going to die, live with it
07/02/02: From the eye of the storm
06/27/02: Nick not right
06/20/02: Behind the music
06/14/02: The sum of all fears in vouchers
06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
05/24/02: Should I embrace liberalism?
05/20/02: Some passion about Israel
05/09/02: A mother who cares enough
05/02/02: Go ahead, pass judgment
04/29/02: The irritation of the modern wedding
04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
04/09/02: The Clinton legacy: Politics of personal destruction
03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
12/27/01: The Twelve Days of inconsistency
12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
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05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
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12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
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07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
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05/12/00: Taking your lumps
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04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
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02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
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01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
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12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
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11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
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11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
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10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
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09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
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07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings