November 18, 2006

"That is not Michigan," elites exclaim, looking at how Michigan citizens voted.

In the aftermath of Michigan's vote against affirmative action:
"The voters went to the polls and Proposition 2 passed, and we have to live with it now," said Matt Allen, the mayor's spokesman. "As of December 22, there can be no more gender or race preferences."...

"There will be both offense lawsuits and defensive lawsuits filed to understand what this actually means for Michigan," said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the Michigan office of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I do think it's necessary for the courts to slow this thing down and . . . interpret some of the language."...

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D) and her Republican opponent, businessman Dick DeVos, opposed Proposal 2, as did much of the state's government, business and civic elite....

"I am standing here today to tell you that I will not allow this university to go down the path of mediocrity," [University of Michigan president Mary Sue] Coleman said. "That is not Michigan. Diversity makes us strong, and it is too critical to our mission, too critical to our excellence and too critical to our future to simply abandon."
The article describes the way these elites could not translate their reasons for supporting affirmative action into something that resonated with voters. Meanwhile, Jennifer Gratz -- who failed to win also won over the U.S. Supreme Court with her reasons for opposing affirmative action -- conveyed a message that voters responded to. One reason for her success, it seems, is the large number of citizens turned away from the University each year. People don't know exactly why the University rejects them, but missing out on such a significant opportunity offered by the state naturally makes them sensitive to arguments that the process was unfair. It is not surprising that they are hostile to the assurances by the elite decisionmakers that they have a benevolent plan and they are deploying their power competently.

Here in Wisconsin, where voters recently defied the elites by voting against same-sex marriage (58 percent to 42 percent) and for the death penalty (55 percent to 45 ), we need to realize that what happened in Michigan could easily happen here. Surely, this state is full of people who wanted to attend UW-Madison -- many of whom felt entitled to attend -- and received rejection letters. After the marriage and death penalty votes, it would be foolish -- regardless of how many liberals we elect to public office -- to rely complacently on the state's progressive tradition.

CORRECTION: Jennifer Gratz won her lawsuit against the University of Michigan. She challenged the undergraduate admissions program. There was a second case, Grutter v. Bollinger, decided the same year, that upheld the University of Michigan Law School's approach to affirmative action.

100 comments:

Gerry said...

I hope your state does ban affirmative action, Ann. It is a philosophical blight, it is the codification of unfairness to rectify unfairness, and worse it covers up the real problem.

If the high schools are producing college candidates in a manner where minorities are unable to match up on a level playing field, then the answer is not to level the playing field for admission by setting different standards.

The answer is to level the playing field by fixing the broken high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.

It is a much more difficult problem to solve, and one that does not help those who have already passed through the schools, but it is the one way that is most fair and best prepares a diverse student body for success.

Derve said...

Here in Wisconsin, where voters recently defied the elites by voting against same-sex marriage (58 percent to 42 percent)...

lol. Is that how they're spinning it now?* Defying the elites ?

Funny, I know a lot of Wisconsin folk lumped into that 42% who would get a chuckle at the notion they were in with "the elites".

--------

*Give an inch in acknowledging people may be merely following religious dictates, not practicing bigotry ... next thing ya know, they're just "defying the elites". lol --

(Is somebody grasping at the Midwestern populism meme going around in online political circles these days? )

Derve said...

Surely, this state is full of people who wanted to attend UW-Madison -- many of whom felt entitled to attend -- and received rejection letters.

More on point,
I don't think you'll see what happened in Michigan happen here.

Minnesota honors Wisconsin tuition reciprocity so many h.s. seniors choose to attend University of Minnesota, or the other UM state schools. (It's a good deal -- Minnesota education at their own schools for their own in-state students generally is higher priced than here. I know one MN dad who moans about paying more for his daughter, than the WI kids who go there. But I digress...)

Another factor:
though the UW-Madison is our best state school, it simply doesn't rise to the level of academic competitiveness as Michigan.

I just don't see the fire -- the great numbers of Wisconsin students who wanted to attend Madison and got turned down. Despite what that one Mark Green (R) campaign ad about kids not getting in, or paying more at the state schools, might have you think.

Finally, the conservative sector you would need to support such an action in Wisconsin is not so gung-ho on sending their kids to (that liberal hotbed) Madison anyway. Wonder where they get the idea the kids would be better off someplace smaller, closer to home ?

dave said...

So not only are you blithering fucking idiot, you're a racist blithering fucking idiot.

I love how the brownshirts falling completely apart and losing their hold on power has pretty much ended any lying about your being a moderate.

Not that anyone ever believed that bullshit.

Ann Althouse said...

So dave, you idiot, do you read this post as for or against affirmative action (assuming you're capable of reading at all)?

Derve: Is it pleasant there, with your head in the sand?

Derve said...

Though you may have a point regarding the law school in Wisconsin, as it's only a two-horse state (Madison and Marquette--private)

There, unlike undergrad, the rejected might be more likely to view their denials as "unfair" since admission is more competitive and desired... and those applying are likely more litigious.

Simon said...

From the story:
"Kary L. Moss, executive director of the Michigan office of the American Civil Liberties Union ... [said] 'I do think it's necessary for the courts to slow this thing down and interpret some of the language.'"

I wonder if that's what white southerners said to themselves after the Fourteenth Amendment passed - an amendment which, I continue to believe, would render the Michigan amendment superfluous if it were properly construed. See Adarand Constructors v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, (1995) (Thomas, concurring) ("there is [not] a racial paternalism exception to the principle of equal protection. I believe that there is a moral and constitutional equivalence between laws designed to subjugate a race and those that distribute benefits on the basis of race in order to foster some current notion of equality. Government cannot make us equal; it can only recognize, respect, and protect us as equal before the law"); those restrictions apply even when they lead to onerous and difficult results (I do not dispute the practical consequences observed in Scalia's Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co. dissent, but I would still have voted against him on that one).

Internet Ronin said...

Ah yes, affirmative action: Nixonian liberalism at its finest.

(Just a joke, and a reminder ;-)
____

Aside #1 Derve: Surely you are not arguing that there is no such thing as a "cultural elite, or are you?"

Aside #2 Ann: While some people really do have reading comprehension problems, others just persist in believing that anything you bring up equates to an endorsement. You could type your position in short sentences using words a 1st grader could understand, in bold-faced, underlined, capitals and they would still choose to not understand. (

Ann Althouse said...

Derve: You really seriously fail to understand how important and hard it is for kids to get into UW-Madison!

Gerry said...

"you might just find a better fit in with the Republicans after all"

I've been trying to convince the good professor of just this for quite some time.

You see, diversity of opinions and traditions is welcome on the right side of the aisle. We can handle some internal disagreement, as long as it is done respectfully. All we require is a love for America, a belief in a strong defense, and a rejection of leftism.

Respect and tolerance of dissenting opinions are not two attributes normally associated with the left.

John(classic) said...

"we need to realize that what happened in Michigan could easily happen here. Surely, this state is full of people who wanted to attend UW-Madison -- many of whom felt entitled to attend -- and received rejection letters."


Could also be that Wisconsin has a lot of people that believe that people should be judged on their merits and not the color of their skin.

Internet Ronin said...

I tend to think that a lot of frustration over affirmative action placement in public colleges is due to decades of promising a seat to every qualified student who followed a suggested path in high school and the inability to provide those seats today.

When I was growing up, everyone believed that any child with what was, in essence, a "B+" average in high school was theoretically guaranteed a place in the University of California and anyone with a "B" average could get into the California State University system. By the time I attended college, that was already beginning to be a broken one.

For the past few years, the promise has been altered: those who go to a community college and follow certain guidelines have a seat for them in the CSUS system. Apparently, the state is now having great difficulty delivering on that promise as well.

knoxgirl said...

derve/mary/freakshow:

Please refer to dave's post as an example of elitism. He implies that anyone who doesn't agree with him is a "blithering (expletive deleted) idiot" and/or a "brownshirt."

Derve said...

You really seriously fail to understand how important and hard it is for kids to get into UW-Madison!

No I do.
I suspect living in the Madison area though, you overestimate the conservative numbers of kids eager to get in who get turned down?

Outside Madison/Stevens Pt/Milwaukee suburbs, are there that many academically competitive who fail to get in? Does WI have the numbers of malcontents -- not satisfied with schooling alternatives -- as Michigan? Or does their elite, elite state school reputation skew the numbers?

Maybe for law or med. school -- or in Madison high schools seeking undergrad -- there are these huge numbers. Undergrad, I just don't see it. (EauClaire, Hudson, Superior ... good h.s. school districts with students content to go elsewhere)

Perhaps neither of our heads are in the sand; we just disagree based on geography and our take on student demographics.

Derve said...

Aside #1 Derve: Surely you are not arguing that there is no such thing as a "cultural elite, or are you?"

I think you're wrong if you assume the 42% of people voting to keep open the possibility of same-sex civil unions somehow represent the "cutural elite".

I also think champagne liberals give an awful lot of you a skewed impression of the Democratic party. I suspect I like them less than you.

I also think it's very very cheap and easy to stir up dissatisfaction -- especially from outside. "Play to whitey" can be just as ugly as sowing distrust by blacks for whites ever was. But sometimes it seems like we're not really discussing, just choosing up sides...

Internet Ronin said...

Derve: Why do you believe that only "conservative" students are concerned about this? (IIRC, there is pretty substantial opposition to affirmative action among moderates and even liberals.)

And why do you believe that "conservative" students in Wisconsin definitely not want to attend the best state-supported school? Here in California, I've never met anyone who ruled out UCB, UCLA, or even UCSC for political reasons (student or parent).

Derve said...

Could also be that Wisconsin has a lot of people that believe that people should be judged on their merits and not the color of their skin.

Are you saying people suspect the Wisconsin admissions departments are not looking at each file individually, and doing just that classicjohn? Have you any proof?

Derve said...

Reread Ronin.

Off to work at 10 for me, but I said neither of those things. You're debating yourself. Re-read what I wrote, and consider without bias.

I think distinguishing between the two states is valid in analyzing the "problem" here. But perhaps you know more than I, and would compare Wisconsin to California? I don't see that either in terms of competitiveness.

Internet Ronin said...

Well, I never said I thought 42% constituted a cultural elite. (I don't think anyone but you did, in fact.) I definitely don't qualify as one by any stretch of the definition, and would have been among the 42%, as Ann was by the way. (And yes, Ann could be considered a member of the "cultural elite.")

A conversation has barely started, and you've already decided that it is pointless, that people are choosing up sides automatically. Seems to me that you are the one attempting to stifle any genuine discussion. And, in that case, Ann's suggestion that you have your head in the sand, is beginning to seem quite apt, I'm sorry to say.

AJ Lynch said...

Big game today Ohio State vs. Michigan; #1 vs. #2 playing for all the enchiladas. Wonder if Michigan president, Mary Sue Coleman, will watch and enjoy the game even though there are so few Asian players on Michigan's team?

And Derve/ Dave- you apparently like it here so why do you get so crazy when Ann posts a controversial topic but does not cast an obvious vote to show where she stands on it.

FYI- Ann likes to stir the conversational juices and get people talking. And her blog is different from her classroom- here she does not want nor claim to have all the correct answers.

Joe Baby said...

I think another problem with AA is that it is considered a measure that solves things in terms of minorities having a shot at college.

So rather than fix the crappy schools below, AA is slapped on as a solution. And the issue of schools in minority areas is never addressed.

AJ Lynch said...

Internet Ronin:

If they did a poll, I wonder what % of those polled would claim to be a member of the cultural elite?
Would Ann?

Ann Althouse said...

"I think another problem with AA..."

Oh! I thought you had a problem with me!

Anyway, the "elite" referred to in the post is obviously not meant to comprise everyone who voted on the side favored by the elite. The point is the elite shaped a message that failed to resonate with enough people to win. The message on the other side was more comprehensible to ordinary people. Elites can become so sure they represent the best values that they neglect to persuade people and leave themselves open to popular initiatives like the two that just won in Wisconsin and the Michigan anti-affirmative action one. Some of the comments in this thread manifest the very attitude that the post is critiquing!

Ann Althouse said...

"And her blog is different from her classroom- here she does not want nor claim to have all the correct answers."

Do I claim to have all the correct answers in the classroom? No. Only some. And not for the interesting questions.

Internet Ronin said...

Good point, AJ! BTW, The odds are that Mary Sue Coleman won't give a second thought to the lack of Asians. Discrimination against Asian applicants has been institutionalized lest they "overrun" the campuses. Talk about reviving the "Yellow Peril!"

Joe Baby said...

This was just great political theatre:

Opponents [of the amendment] even found basketball coaches to tout the importance of seeking "diversity." In response to that last stunt, the tiny band of full-time, young MCRI workers (five on the payroll) sent a staffer -- a very short Korean immigrant, carrying a basketball and dressed for the court -- to the coaches' press conference where he stated his eagerness to add "diversity" to the game.

Here (with WSJ account) or here (way down the page).

Zeb Quinn said...

The answer is to level the playing field by fixing the broken high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.

The crux of the problem is external to the school system, and it is a problem that the school system is not able to fix. It's cultural. Black culture in large measure does not value education the way it must be valued to excel at it.

Hanging Chad said...

If the 42% are the elites, what do we call the 58% ?

I'm not invested in any opinion, but I always found it hypocritical to be against AA on admissions, and indifferent to legacy preferences, that artificially raise SAT scores. Its affirmative action, cronyism, and nepotism all rolled up into one.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:
That was a test and you failed. I knew you would never admit you had all the answers in your classroom.
Better luck in next semester's pop quiz.

IR:
I have a nephew who went to a very liberal, liberal arts college. He scoffs at their claim of diversity at least when it came to ideology.

And bottom line is this; the country has come so far in the last 40 years and the Dems should rightly take credit for that and move on to advocate an economic diversity program.

For instance, I work near Villanova U. and you can't believe the number of students driving Beamers. And did I mention they tend to be tall, blonde and very pretty too?

Internet Ronin said...

Hanging Chad: Good point, but I wonder how many public colleges and universities have legacy preferences. (Years ago, I read something about the California systems having some sort of preference for children of employees but I have no idea if it was true.)

What a private college does or doesn't do is entirely their own business, as far I am concerned.

Internet Ronin said...

AJ: As a graduate of Uncle Charlie's $ummer Camp, I harbor few illusions about what "diversity" means in practice.

IIRC, economic diversity was a central aim of affirmative action when it began. The practice, however, has not lived up to that promise (for a variety of reasons).

As Villanova is a private school, yes, I can believe that.

The partisan moderate said...

Ann, I believe diversity of thought is a good thing. As moderate liberal University of Colorado Professor Paul Campos put it in a piece that was critical of some proponents of affirmative action, "We also spoke of how uncomfortable it made us to teach racially charged subjects - a common experience in law school - in classes in which there were no or almost no black students. (This makes about as much sense as discussing the law of rape in an all-male class.)"
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion_columnists/article/0,2777,DRMN_23972_5071223,00.html

That said, many of these same professors have done little to increase the diversity of political thought amongst student body or faculty. When talking about hot button social issues, constitutional issues, foreign policy, or even economic policy it would surely be helpful to have students or professors with Libertarian, Conservative, or even neo-liberal or neo-conservative views.

Instead as Northwestern Law Professor John McGinnis noted in his recent 2005 study almost all of the elite law schools (except Northwestern and UVA) there is no political diversity amongst the faculty.

It also seems that there is no active program to recruit faculty who are right of center and it is likely that many would probably face discrimination in the hiring process. Just the same that students who express differing views from their professor in a non-anonnymous grading situation may face retribution in the form of a lower grade.

Among students in my law school (which is generally considered among the top-five), I am always struck by the vigorous debate we have among purely legal issues but when the legal issues impacts on some political issue, too often everyone just agrees and the conversation becomes a dud. I can give a list of all the snide political comments that are made each semester by law professors. One of friend of mine who is socially liberal Republican and is fairly popular, when I asked him why he was less likely to be involved in politics at the law school (which he is very interested in), he replied that, "he wanted to have friends." That is pretty scary when one thinks that his/her views on politics may affect his/her friendships.

Too often political diversity is defined as hiring Scalia's liberal law clerk. My Dean claimed he was actively trying to rectify the situation by having Professor Epstein visit for part of the semester. This is laughable for a number of reasons most notably that Professor Epstein is a Libertarian and his views do not encompass all of right of center views and secondly the fact that he did not realize how insulting this was. Could one imagine he told a black student that he was rectifying the law of black faculty members by hiring Cornell West to visit for part of the semester.

If this is the kind of diversity that is sought, law schools should be rethinking their policies. Diversity is good but the concept of diversity should constitute a wider web.

Anon Y. Mous said...

"One reason for her success, it seems, is the large number of citizens turned away from the University each year."

I think your analysis is off. The ban passed with 58% of the vote - 2,129,506 voters. I think the number of people who applied to and failed to get into the University of Michigan is, to put it mildly, statistically insignificant to this vote. A much more likely reason for the results is just basic fairness. Sometimes, people just do what they think is right, even when it doesn't benefit them personally.

As to Wisconsin, if, as you suggest, they are using skin color to evaluate admissions, I do hope one of those discriminated against sticks up for themselves the way Jennifer Gratz did, and put an end to that pernicious policy.

Here's a thought: how about if we actually live under laws that comply with our constitution? The 14th amendment was passed in 1866, but the principle has never been the practice. Let's give it a shot - it just might work.

PatCA said...

When we hear an academic or politician say, "Diversity makes us strong," we cringe because we know, of course, it is pandering. To us, it sounds like having people of non-white origin simply taking up seats in class makes us strong, and that's baloney, and plantation thinking. Or, worse, that racism is the sole reason for low attendance figures for minorities.

What makes us strong is equal opportunity for all to compete and win. Respect for the abilities of all to compete and win. Fix the soft bigotry of low expectations, fix the teachers' unions, fix the high schools, and equality will result.

Gerry said...

Wait a sec...

"This makes about as much sense as discussing the law of rape in an all-male class."

It is somehow nonsensical to discuss the law of rape when no women are present?

Now *that* is sexist.

Simon said...

Ann said...
"Do I claim to have all the correct answers in the classroom? No. Only some. And not for the interesting questions.

Ah, but that is one of the great benefits of originalism as an interpretative philosophy. The originalist is never stuck for an answer, because even if I do not know the answer to a question, I can tell the student what the method is for finding out, and that is a totally legitimate answer. It's a process-oriented approach. Whereas, if you go the other way, if you're a non-originalist, what can you do? What can you tell the student who wants to know what the answer is, as to how a case is going to turn out? A well-thumbed copy of Justice as Fairness: a Restatement and a dream? That's the problem with the totality of the circumstances test, as Justice Scalia explained in The Rule of Law as a Law of Rules: all of these balancing tests look very "modest" on the surface, until you realize that all they do is avoid constraining the discretion of the judge in the next case. If the test is that in Grutter, the totality of the circumstances said the court should do one thing, it becomes very difficult to say that the judge is being inconsistent if, in the next case, they say that the totality of the circumstances says quite another.* That's a peculiar kind of modesty, and I honestly wonder sometimes how it's taught in a way that makes it so appealing to so many people. I'd have to guess that it's because it's so appealing an idea that all of these big, controversial topics that no one wants to fight out legislatively have already been solved for us -- if you're pro abortion, you argue that the Constitution absolutely demands it, and some pro lifers seriously argue the converse, that the Fourteenth Amendment absolutely forbids it. Which is all very neat, because that way, all you have to do is persuade five lawyers in Washington to agree with you, and neither side has to duke it out in fifty state legislatures, with all the messy, inconsistent results and compromises that such an enterprise entails. Even if Justice Kennedy transforms abortion law into a messay, complex balancing test,I would never have to tell students that I can't answer the question "is abortion unconstitutional," because my Constitution makes that question very easy toanswer.

Or think about the death penalty - imagine being asked for all the answers there! I mean, if you're a student in Larry Tribe's conlaw class, and you ask "Professor Tribe, is the death penalty unconstitutional?," the most honest answer that he can give you, within the bounds of his interpretative philosophy is "not yet." Or probably not yet, I suppose. And that's not really a very satisfying answer. If you're a living constitutionalist, you can't possibly have all the correct answers, because it is unknowable what each new day and each new case will pour into the Constitution. Quite apart from the fundamental illegitimacy of the idea, I've never understood how something that is inherently indeterminate is so appealing to so many people. It's almost like buying these stocks that you get spam about - it's not that doing so might not produce some pleasent results for your portfolio from time-to-time, but you can't get away from the overwhelming likelihood that it's basically a scam, and that you're going to get screwed.

----------

*Note: (It's of interest to me that so many people criticize Scalia for inconsistency, when it is in fact the case that he and Justice Thomas are the only Justices who really have a coherent enough judicial philosophy to be accused of departing from. It would be meaningless to say, for example, that Justice Breyer's opinion in a given case was inconsistent with his "active liberty" "theory," because his judicial theory is designed precisely to let him reach any result that seems right. With Scalia and Thomas, they have a method, and anyone can follow it and say that they got it wrong in a given case. You cannot do that with non-originalists. It's a very cozy position for the latter - they can be accused of anything in the world but inconsistency.)

yetanotherjohn said...

Ann,

Think about what you are saying. You are worried that voters would stop "the elites" from practicing racism. Affirmative action is racism. It is favoring one race, solely based on the race, over another race. You can go into heartfelt justification for why the racism should be preferred, but the American voter tends to no more accept those justifications than they did the segregationists justifications for their racism.

At its heart, this is why it was so hard for “the elites” to persuade voters to their position and so easy for the dissenters to persuade the voters. No matter how much lipstick you put on the pig of racism, it is still a pig.

If the purpose of the affirmative action is remedy past discrimination, then provide preferences for allowing those who parents don’t have college degrees or are below a certain income level, not based on race. If the purpose of the affirmative action is diversity of the student body, then provide preferences for students with diverse experiences (how many veterans does the school have enrolled?). In short, a program that discriminates based on race is going to be a hard sell with the voters, but a program that provides opportunity for all to participate in the American dream will be much more readily accepted.

Kent said...

Ann,

Being very slightly autistic, I sometimes have a difficult time detecting irony. I was under the impression you opposed most affirmative action. Was your post supposed to be ironic?

Ann Althouse said...

Kent: I'm not opposed to affirmative action.

Simon: "Ah, but that is one of the great benefits of originalism as an interpretative philosophy. The originalist is never stuck for an answer, because even if I do not know the answer to a question, I can tell the student what the method is for finding out, and that is a totally legitimate answer. It's a process-oriented approach. Whereas, if you go the other way, if you're a non-originalist, what can you do? What can you tell the student who wants to know what the answer is, as to how a case is going to turn out?"

I would tell the student that outcomes are unpredictable and it would be misleading to assert otherwise and that the point of law school is to learn how to be a lawyer and that is going to require you to understand how different judges do constitutional interpretation.

And if you don't think originalists arguments can be made on both sides of difficult constititonal questions... well, why don't you?

Greg AKA Rhymes With Right said...

So what you are saying, Ann, is that democratic values are fine as long as the masses vote with what you consider to be the "enlightened" position supported by you and your fellow self-anointed "elites".

And you somehow believe that it is the GOP that has contempt for the people of this country? Look in the mirror and see the contemptuous smirk looking back out at you!

Derve said...

The point is the elite shaped a message that failed to resonate with enough people to win.

Sorry, I still have to disagree with the spin you're giving this.

Enough with the 'elite' business.
This is Wisconsin. Plenty of 'non-elite' participated in gathering that 40+percent support. Church goers, grandmas, union members, queer service workers, etc.

They were opposed primarily by the religious elite -- Catholic bishops, etc. and those who follow them. You do a great disservice -- and it's quite condescending as well -- to assume homosexuals somehow represent the "elite' and those who voted againsst them somehow represent the real working people of our state.

Sorry. That's discriminatory thinking to classify people like that. Plus, it's a bit of talking out your ass.

There are plenty of non-elite homosexuals working hard throughout the state to secure rights for their families. They are fighting for basic legal recognitions for themselves, not any visible homosexual elite agenda.

In my opinion, it's often the "elite" homosexuals -- who can contract privately -- not willing to press for equal rights throughout society. They see no problems -- everything is fine in their enclaves. Let the non-elites fend for themselves; those types tend to become free riders, letting somebody else fight their battles while they sit it out.

No big deal if you didn't really think out your labels, just looking to stir up the rabble...

The Drill SGT said...

The elephant in the room that nobody has mentioned thus far is the huge inequity that affirmative action inflicts on some minority groups.

The focus of the piece was on UM and this blog on UW so that turns into a black and white issue, but there are much deeper faults with the way AA ingrains bias into our culture.

1. AJ Lynch wrote a bit about one facet: economic diversity. The current AA policy gives preference to the son of a black doctor over the son of a coal miner, using skin color as a surrogate for hardship. why not go all the way and literally use skin pigment? of course not you say, that would not be fair, well why is the current system fair?

2. Internet Ronin and I come from the University of California. There the AA policy admits under qualified blacks and Hispanics to the detriment of Asians? Yet California has a historical record of discrimination against Asians and none against blacks.

Don't you defenders of AA find it difficult to rationalize that the first generation son of a stone age Hmong villager from Laos needs higher SATs and grades to get into Berkeley than the son of the Hispanic mayor of LA or the Black mayor of SF?

Why did the Hmong kids succeed despite poverty, parents that could not speak English, etc, etc. Simply hard work and a culture that values education has moved those tribesmen from welfare to PhD's in 1 generation.

dump AA and go back to Dr King's dream of a fairly applied 14th amendment.

Ann Althouse said...

Greg: Huh?? Where did I say that?

Derve said...

If we're really into stimulating discussion on this issue, does Michigan have a strong "satellite" college system like Wisconsin (River Falls, Stout, Eau Claire, Stevens Point, LaCrosse, Whitewater, etc.)

Nobody is suggesting the opportunites can match those in Madison based on size, but some of the programs offered are very competitive. You can walk away with a very solid education from any of these schools. Acknowleging Madison in no way diminishes these schools -- you'd be surprised how many at the top of their h.s. classes -- not raised in urban areas -- choose to attend one of those schools that have their own "specialties".

Is the same true for Michigan?

Also, someone wondered why a child would not select the "most competitive" school to be educated at -- meaning everyone wants Madison. I'd suggest there are many cultural reasons, again reiterating that the educations offered at those smaller schools might not carry much national weight, but are highly respected within the state in certain fields.

Also, some might argue that Univ. of Minnesota is more competitive undergrad than Wisconsin. If you can pay WI state rates -- get admitted and attend -- maybe those top WI high school students are chosing the most competitive state school for themselves? Suddenly, they don't look so dumb anymore for not necessarily choosing Madison.

In short, it's not meant as condescencion to suggest that Michigan and Madison (the schools), and Michigan and Wisconsin (the states) are coming from very different places on this issue.

Of course, you might have enough of the elite anti-a.a. forces looking to make national issues of things, who can help create problems just so they can solve them.

Again in my humble opinion, that's exactly what was done on the recent constitutional amendments. The one was non-binding; the other was shamelessly sold as "protecting" Wisconsin non-gay families and children (remember how they won? -- with that "who's my daddy" commercial. That pandering to the lowest denominator, not stimulating discussion or defending anybody from anything. The more you examine how unnecessary that amendment is -- and how it locks up decision-making from the Wisconsin people -- the more you realize how it was the Republican political elites playing the people.

The amendment itself is shameful, in that it takes the decision-making power regarding even civil unions out of the hands of Wisconsin's people in the future. That smells elitist to me.

I'm sorry for those who can't see that's a credible viewpoint.

Fitz said...

I am from Michigan and I voted against the proposition. Our local archdiocese and every mainstream voice (All candidates for governor & senate) encouraged people to vote against the measure. Yet it still passed.

I don’t rank the presence of affirmative action as a significant social problem. I don’t think it does squat to raise the underclass, address real problems & basically makes admission committee’s feel better about themselves.

But what I DO like about it- people may find quite interesting….
It does not FETISHISE the 14th amendment.
I believe in everything from common sense racial profiling, to special screening for cycle cell anemia, to preferential adoption rights of black children for black couples.

You throw in the spurious claims of gay rights activists under the 14th amendment & you can begin to see were I’m coming from.

It’s of tremendous value to claim “diversity” as a “compelling state interest” when your juxtaposing it with marriage NOT being a “rational basis”.
(The former being {race}- the very purpose of the amendment, while the latter has never been granted special civil rights protection)

See what I mean?

(responses encouraged)

Derve said...

I support economic a.a. -- or looking at the file and considering the whole person (ie/coal miners son/ physician's son).

You want to ask -- what did this person do with the resources they had to work with? Often it's the elite Madison-type students who get the test prep, the doctor's notes for special testing circumstances, the AP classes across the board, set-up white collar summer jobs, etc.

You'd be amazed -- when some of the resources are equaled out and you factor in things like drive, will, and character -- how many of those 'high gpa, high test score' students don't have all that much to contribute in society or to the pursuit of learning. Often, they're best at just digesting and regurgitating. And they tend to rebel and get angry -- think binge drinking or excuse-making pointing at "lessers" -- because how satisfying is it to not really be free to think for yourself?

Edward said...

The obvious solution to the banning of affirmative action is to improve the quality and status of second-tier schools. Someone else in this thread already suggested this, but it deserves repeating.

Universities exist to provide education and conduct research. They should not be used to create elites, although they are too often used for that purpose. The goals of education and research do not require the degree of concentration of talent and resources as currently exists within a few “top schools.”

American universities have always been much less stratified by prestige than universities elsewhere in the world, such as in Europe. Nevertheless, the banning of affirmative action may produce an even greater decentralization of talent and resources within American universities, especially within the public/state system.

I’m not taking a stand here for or against affirmative action. I’m just stating what I believe to be the best response to a situation where affirmative action has been banned by law.

Elitism, which need not have anything at all to do with race, creates its own numerous problems. Elitism is often just as much a self-destructive mentality as it is a fact based in some actual superiority.

Fitz said...

Derve

I hadn’t read your post until I posted mine.
“I'm sorry for those who can't see that's a credible viewpoint.”
Well it may be more credible than your defense suggests, but I’m still not sold.


ALL

On A.A.
Yes Michigan has all sorts of “satellite” schools that are not UofM Or MSU. (and are very good)

Also- The justification for A.A. in the recent decision has never sat well with me. “diversity” is a word (concept?) that I wached the elites force into our lexicon. Its nowhere in our civil religion (Freedom, equality, democracy, diversity?)
Under such a lose rubric you can basically go wherever you want (and they have)

I preferred the original justification of making up for past injustice & leveling the playing field for historically aggrieved groups.

Better than even that would be the autonomy (of even state) institutions to do as the please (especially or specifically) in education. Universities and colleges should be free to define who they are through enrollment by pretty much whatever criteria they justify. (this may sound novel but it has a very old lineage as a “mediating institution” deserving of free thought & action)

Thoughts?

Simon said...

Ann said...
"And if you don't think originalists arguments can be made on both sides of difficult constititonal questions... well, why don't you?"

Well, it depends on which difficult questions. I know with absolute certainty that they can be, in some cases. For example, one has only to compare the opinions of Justice Scalia and Thomas in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission -- or, for that matter, Hamdi v. Rusfeld.

Look, let me be entirely honest: I do get that originalism is oversold by many of its proponents. It is touted (usually by GOP activists, who can barely spell it, but even by some of its less dilettante proponents) as this wonderful system that is perfectly determinate in practically all cases, and the simple fact is that there are some provisions of the Constitution where you can find originalist evidence that supports more than one possible interpretation. Worse yet, there are some parts where recovering the original meaning is probably impossible. And sure enough, originalists have largely left underdeterminacy (and what to do with it) an undertheorized area. I know what Robert Bork's answer is, and I think what he advocates is little short of judicial abdication.

My own view is that this is precisely where stare decisis comes into play - where the original meaning can't be clearly established, we have to turn to tradition, and the most important tradition we have to look at is, how has the court interpreted this clause through time? And in my view (admittedly, I have changed my mind on this point, because I have been persauded by Lee Strang's argument that stare decisis is part of the original understanding of the judicial power), unless there is a clear originalist argument that the caselaw is wrong, the judge basically has to stick with precedent. The obvious example of a case that would be overruled is Roe, and no less obvious an example of a case that we're stuck with would be Hans, which seems as though it probably shouldn't be right, but I'm not sure that there is a sufficiently coherent originalist argument -- or one that cannot, as you point out, be rebutted by an equally good originalist argument -- which means that for better or worse, it's water over the dam. Which is probably not a great figure of speech to use right now, since you were just recalling a nightmare about a giant wave coming to get you and Joe Lieberman, but what're you going to do. ;)

So to be sure, you're right. It isn't perfectly determinative in every single case. It isn't always enough, freestanding, and sometimes you have to cut the pure stuff with a dollop of judicial restraint - political questions, deference to Congress, and so on. For most circumstances, though, originalism does establish a clear answer (or, at very least, it clearly forecloses a range of answers - for example, even if we assume, arguendo, that it is impossible to determine what original meaning of the establishment clause would prohibit, because originalist evidence can be marshalled to argue both sides of a case, we can determine with clarity what the first amendment did not mean. And sure, if you're writing a treatise, that's not much use, but in a case like Hinrichs v. Bosma, for example, that's good enough.

And in any event, I suppose the question has to be, why, if you think it's problematic that originalism is not determinative enough, you would prefer something that is inherently incapable of producing a definite result (something that is defined by precisely the absence of determinacy)?

I know that I don't have to tell you this, but since this is a public forum I'll repeat it for other readers, I think Justice Scalia would answer your question by conceding that originalism isn't perfect, but pointing out that it doesn't have to be - it has only to be better than any of the alternatives. And I can't see any way that he's wrong - it really is better than the alternatives, not least because the alternatives run the gamut from incoherent to outright illegitimate. A law professor has a certain amount of lattitude in picking their battles, but a Judge can't just be a non-originalist, she has to be something else. And there really isn't anything else (or at least, not that can stand up and fight; if there were, presumably Justice Breyer would have presented it, instead of the airy inscrutability that the reader finds in Active Liberty).

It seems to me that if one is looking for a consistent, coherent theory, one that does constitutional and statutory interpretation within a single, coherent, principled framework, originalism is the only game in town - warts an' all.

AJ Lynch said...

Drill Sgt made two good examples of AA gone wrong (as an Irishman I never thought I'd say that)... He pointed out how the mayor of LA is hispanic and the mayor of Frisco at one time was black (to the best of my knowledge he still is black but is no longer mayor). Their kids would benefit from AA in CA admissions evaluations and that is just plain wrong.

So, it appears we all agree that the Libs/Dems should just declare victory and change their tactics to economic diversity which meets their new populist mantra anyhow. Glad to be of assistance to you Dr. Dean and the Dems. Can I send you a bill for these consulting services?

Derve said...

Again in my humble opinion, that's exactly what was done on the recent constitutional amendments

I meant referenda, not constitutional amendments.

Used the wrong term. Apologies.

Derve said...

Fitz:

The national ranking of Michigan greatly exceeds that of the University of Wisconsin--Madison. And I'm not talking football either. Michigan is a "super-duper" elite public (yet amazingly private-like) school.

Are there really great numbers of students -- and parents -- all over the state rightly disappointed at being rejected from UW-Madison?

Who see a.a. admission policies as the source of their grievances? I don't see it, and I'm well above ground looking all around our state.

Even if controversy is stirred on this issue, unless it's framed outside the "undergrad at UW-Madison terms", I don't a.a. in our state being brought down by the huge numbers banging on the university doors.

No matter how they do it in California, or how many malcontented transplants we get from places like that, lured by a better quality of life and way of thinking. :)

Fitz said...

Aj Lynch

“So, it appears we all agree that the Libs/Dems should just declare victory and change their tactics to economic diversity which meets their new populist mantra anyhow.”

Problem is they have already tried this and can’t get the numbers they want. (leaving out race as an arbiter) and going strictly by class (income of parents, college education of parents, first in family{both sides} to attend college…. You get WAY more white underprivileged applicants who qualify & these schools cant get the number of (preferred) minorities their looking for.

About the closest veil they can use that would work (while claiming not to take race into account)
(1) School districts within the state and their top students
(2) Geography as a precursor to race… selecting minority areas as more worthy of special treatment.

(for other working models that I prefer, see my post above)

Simon
“Look, let me be entirely honest: I do get that originalim is oversold by many of its proponents. It is touted (usually by GOP activists, who can barely spell it, but even by some of its less dilettante proponents) as this wonderful system that is perfectly determinate in practically all cases,

And one of those “overselling, misspelling, GOP proponents of originalism” (who is even a lawyer) I agree – as a system it is not perfectly determinate (& what system worth its salt is…)

However, they have backed me into a (imperfect & oversold –reactionary) defense of it, because the alternative {living-constitutionalism} seems to mean “whatever the left decides it means on any given day”

So I guess I’m a strict-constructionist, textualist, originalist, pillaging hun!
(what choice do I have)

Internet Ronin said...

Derve: You are undoubtedly right that AA will not be an important issue on a Wisconsin ballot any time soon given the demographics of the state.

BTW, here are Exit Poll results for Amendment 1:

SEX %TOT YES NO
Male (48%) 61% 39%
Female (52%) 54% 46%

AGE:
18-29 (17%) 40% 60%
30-44 (23%) 60% 40%
45-59 (32%) 58% 42%
60+ (28%) 67% 33%

INCOME
0- $15,000 (7%) 56% 44%
$15-30,000 (13%) 61% 39%
$30-50,000 (19%) 54% 46%
$50-75,000 (26%) 59% 41%
$75-100,000(18%) 59% 41%
$100,000+ (10%) 47% 53%

UNION MEMBER IN HOUSE?
Yes, I Am (14%) 52% 48%
Yes, Other(14%) 62% 38%
Yes, Both (2%) * *
No (70%) 59% 41%

EDUCATION
No High School (3%) * *
H.S. Graduate (19%) 68% 32%
Some College (36%) 54% 46%
College Grad (27%) 56% 44%
Postgraduate (16%) 45% 55%

IDEOLOGY
Liberal (24%) 26% 74%
Moderate (49%) 54% 46%
Conservative (27%) 87% 13%

PARTY
Democrat (38%) 35% 65%
Republican (35%) 84% 16%
Independent (28%) 50% 50%

RELIGION
Protestant (47%) 64% 36%
Catholic (31%) 60% 40%
Jewish (1%) * *
Other (7%) 28% 72%
None (14%) 29% 71%

TYPE OF COMMUNITY
Urban (32%) 55% 45%
Suburban (41%) 58% 42%
Rural (27%) 61% 39%

REGION
Milwaukee (14%) 56% 44%
Milwaukee Area(20%) 68% 32%
Southern Wisc.(26%) 50% 50%
NE Wisc. (17%) 62% 38%
NW Wisc. (23%) 55% 45%

Jeff said...

Let's bring some numbers into this, courtesy of Peter Kirsanow:

"The preferences given to preferred minorities in college admissions are so powerful that they violate the Supreme Court’s requirement that race not dominate admissions criteria. For example, before Grutter was issued in 2003, University of Texas law professor Lino Graglia noted that the median GPA and LSAT percentiles for admitees to the country’s elite law schools are 3.8 and 98 respectively. Fewer than 20 black law-school applicants in the entire country met those standards. That means that the University of Michigan Law School alone, which has about thirty black law students in each entering class, could admit all of the black students at the median for elite law schools (with ten seats still left to fill), leaving every other top law school in the country with no choice but to admit black students well below the median if it is to reach its diversity goals."

also,

"Don’t academic elites think that black and Hispanic students should know about (to cite but one example) the studies by UCLA law professor Richard Sander showing that because of the mismatch effect caused by affirmative action (i.e., under-qualified minorities being admitted to schools at which they have difficulty competing) half of black law students cluster at the bottom 10 percent of their respective law-school classes? Would college administrators continue to mouth platitudes about affirmative action if their students knew that preferential admissions cause black law students to flunk out at two-and-a-half times the rate of whites? Or that black law students are six times less likely to pass the bar? Or that half of black law students never become lawyers?

These aren’t the only questions about affirmative action that academic elites strenuously avoid. They also fail to tell Asian students that many, if not most, admissions offices discriminate against Asian applicants in a manner resembling the Jewish quotas of the 1950s. How many Asian students know that their odds of being admitted at selective schools are 200 times worse than those of a similarly qualified black or Hispanic applicant?"

Discuss.

The partisan moderate said...

Ann, you still have failed to address, why if you believe affirmative action is necessary in order to increase underrepresented racial minority enrollment, why you are unwilling to use your platform as someone in the University of Wisconsin's law school administration to push affirmative action for those with underrepresented political beliefs.

Conservatives outnumber liberals in this country yet you would never know it by examining law school faculties. Conservatives, Libertarians, Rockefeller Republicans are all significantly underrepresented in law school faculties and amongst the student bodies.

Yale Law School, generally considered the top law school in the country, since Bork left has not had a single Conservative on its faculty. I doubt the University of Wisconsin's record on political diversity is significantly better despite the fact that it is a publicly funded school.

Far from taking affirmative steps to rectify this situation the general consensus is it harder to get hired if you express opposition to certain positions. Without affirmative steps, this situation will continue indefinitely.

Ann, why won't you step forward to help an oppressed group?

Seven Machos said...

So, do you think the University is going to, you know, follow the law?

Simon said...

Fitz,
My choice of phrasing is probably inapt. No offense was intended. What I meant was that during the Roberts and Alito hearings, "originalism" became the euphemism of choice that conservative activists on the ground used to mean "jurisprudentially conservative." It's just the same as the people who used to advocate "strict constructionism" - the latter having fallen out of fashion, but still being used by some. There's nothing funnier than hearing callers to CSPAN saying that they wanted a "strict constructionist like Justice Scalia," which is rather like saying you want a "tax-and-spend liberal like Mike Pence": the label is not only descriptively inaccurate, but its subject would recoil in horror at the suggestion that they were anything of the kind.

The point is that most conservatives don't want an originalist Justice, and President Bush certainly doesn't. They want conservative judges. They don't, in the main, want someone who's going to rule for flag burners, pornographers, terrorists and various malcontents, which is sometimes what originalism demands. I mean, some of them do, but for the most part, the GOP base didn't want a Scalia in Hamdi, they wanted a Thomas - and not because they thought Thomas had the better originalist argument, but because they preferred his result.

I'm a Republican, and I suppose I'm fairly conservative, although I think of myself as a moderate. But for me, the Constitution comes first, and that isn't a partisan issue. Because I'm a mean, benighted, conservative sort of fellow, I like the FPBAA, and I want more of this sort of action from Congress. Tough luck, Simon - the Constitution leaves it to the states. It doesn't matter how much I like the law, the fact is that Congress lacks the power to regulate abortion in mostly all cases, including this one. That's not the kind of result the GOP base wants, although I think it's the originalist one. They want a judge who's going to uphold FPBAA, and not even just in the present case, which is obviously a little bit different. My loyalty is to the Constitution first, even over and above an issue I think is an overriding moral imperative.

To be sure, because originalism is sometimes underdeterminative, as Ann points out, you don't want just any originalist. The whole point that I was trying to make is precisely that originalism isn't "conservative judging" - you don't have to be a conservative to be an originalist. I would take Justice Thomas over Justice Black, and I would readily take Justice Black over Justice Brennan. Though, I dread to say it, I suppose the real test is whether I would take a liberal textualist over a conservative version of Bill Brennan, and I hope - somewhat forlornly - that I would have the courage to do so.

Internet Ronin said...

Seven: Sort of. Eventually. In a way.

Partisan: As Yale is a private institution, their hiring practices are, in the end, their business, don't you think? Applicants are free to attend school elsewhere.

As for public schools, the way around anti-discrimination statutes is to claim "collegiality." Now I'm not saying they are the exact same thing, but these very arguments were used decades ago against Jewish and other minority job applicants, and as recently as a few years after I left college in tenure decisions at my alma mater involving gay men.

The partisan moderate said...

Internet Ronin, first off I am not arguing students can't go elsewhere although if top right-of-center students want to attend a top law school, the choices are limited.

Second of all private places are not allowed to discriminate based on race (numerous civil rights cases made this law) and while I am not sure whether the law allows them to discriminate based on politics, if it does, it shouldn't.

Third, Yale might be a private school but it gets a lot of public money. If Yale is willing to forgo this money that you might have an argument. But I suspect just as the recent military recruiting on campus (Rumsefeld v. Fair) upheld the government right's to bar universities from receiving federal funds that didn't allow the military's right to recruit at law schools, the university can't actively discriminate if they want federal funding.

However, this misses my argument. My argument was that proponents of affirmative action like Ann should be just as vocal if not more so in promoting affirmative action for underrerpresented political minorities who are currently discriminated against. Not for legal reasons but for policy reasons

Seven Machos said...

Partisan Moderate: Certainly, certain minority groups experience discrimination and, certainly, the United States continues to owe a collective debt to at least certain minority groups (e.g., blacks and Native Americans). That said: are you really suggesting that underrerpresented political minorities are currently discriminated against at American universities?/ That's the most absurd thing I have read all year.

Internet Ronin said...

PM: Point taken. I do believe that it is against the law to discriminate against an applicant on the basis of his or her political affiliations. That said, the way around that is always the need for a "collegial" group. Someone whose resume lists pro bono work for pro-life protesters is unlikely to get a warm reception in their interview. Same holds true for someone who has published articles questioning the legal basis of affirmative action or gay marriage, human nature being what it is.

Besides, everyone knows there are no conservative or liberal views of any of these, only the right view, and as long as someone parrots that until the moment they are granted tenure, everything is o.k.

Whenever this kind of subject comes up, a few dottering old profs are trotted out as examples of political diversity, but rare indeed is an untenured one to be found, as any of them are hiding deep in the closet.

The partisan moderate said...

Seven Machos, do you/did you go to an elite law school? I am willing to bet money no. There is discimination both amongst the faculty and the study body against those who are not left of center politically. Even many liberal students and faculty members acknowledge this and bemoan the lack of political diversity.

Furthermore, the argument the Supreme Court majority used in supporting affirmative action in the Michigan case is not past wrongdoing (which would have included groups like Jews and Irish and excluded most newly arrived Latinos) but that diversity of viewpoints is important.

I support the idea that diversity of viewpoints is good and I ask that this argument be extended to its logical conclusion.

Seven Machos, before insulting me, count to ten. Furthermore, please stick to making arguments on issues that you have some knowledge of like flipping burgers.

Gerry said...

First off, I hate partisan moderate's name, because I think half of it is a lie. 99.95% of the people I have met who claim to be moderates who act in a partisan manner are rock-solid liberals or rock-solid conservatives who have decided that the path to glory comes in calling themselves moderate, no matter what they believe. To date, there has been no comment made on Althouse by partisan moderate that has caused me to change this evaluation.

Second, "if you believe affirmative action is necessary in order to increase underrepresented racial minority enrollment."

I heard her saying she is not opposed to affirmative action. I have not heard her say that she thinks "affirmative action is necessary in order to increase underrepresented racial minority enrollment."

Maybe she does, maybe she does not. It is possible that she believes it is not necessary but is helpful, or she believes it is not necessary but is neither harmful nor helpful. It is possible she believes she does not know if it is necessary or does not know if it is helpful or harmful and does not oppose it being tried to see if it works or not.

Let's find out instead of putting words in her mouth.

Gerry said...

And let me reaffirm-- the best, and only truly fair way, to "increase underrepresented racial minority enrollment" is to fix the broken schools in racial minority population centers, and to fix the problem with broken families which occurs disproportionally in these areas (the classic chicken-v-egg problem, in my opinion).

Seven Machos said...

Partisan -- I didn't insult you. I get it now. Sorry. I didn't go to a fancy-pants law school so I guess I am a little slow.

The key word is "political," which I took to mean something else.

That said, I do think you are overblowing the charge. Pressure to conform to liberal norms is not the same as discrimination based on skin color.

The partisan moderate said...

Gerry, I am pro-choice (although not militantly so and would support a ban on partial-birth with exception for the mother), pro diversity (in all forms), pro some forms of gun control, and support free trade.

I have self-identified as moderate because usually those with my beliefs are called moderate. I have also called myself partisan as I have become (although didn't used to be) fairly partisan these days on politics.

Nothing is meant to be misleading although you can certainly disagree. Furthermore, it is fairly obviously by not being opposed that Ann is for affirmative action.

You are either for, against, or undecided on the issue and she did not say she was undecided on the issue (and going by the post she seemed to be against the voters' decision) and she said she was not against affirmative action, so we can assume that she is for it.

I don't think that is putting words in her mouth and she can correct me if I am wrong.Please don't call me or imply very strongly that a liar as I don't appreciate that and will respond in kind.

Seven Machos said...

The Partisan Moderate sure is thin-skinned and easily insulted.

The partisan moderate said...

Seven Machos you did insult me by calling my comments, "the most absurd thing I have read all year".

While you might not have meant to and if so I apologize for my response, you did insult me.

You are correct that "pressure to conform to liberal norms is not the same as discrimination based on skin color" but it is discrimination nonetheless.

Ann Althouse said...

Partisan: Gerry is correct about the possible implications of my saying I'm not opposed to affirmative action. You inserted the idea that I thought it is "necessary" and that it is necessary for a specific reason. I never said that. Frankly, I'm not an expert on the policy itself. I assume there are many different policies that might be followed in college admissions and it is not clear to me which would produce the best results. I support giving the university room to experiment, but I also think it is good for the public to be included in the debate and to have their say as a matter of democracy as they did in Michigan. The point of this post is to say that the elites who support affirmative action have done a poor job of explaining their policy to the people and persuading them that it is good. I think this is a terrible failing.

The partisan moderate said...

Ann, I am sorry for misunderstanding your position. However, I do believe your position is slightly disingenuous. You say that you are uncertain if affirmative action is necessary but "assume there are many different policies that might be followed in college admissions and it is not clear to me which would produce the best results."

Is it not correct that you believe that their should be racial diversity as you seem to be interested in having certain "results"? Furthermore, it is unclear how your fairly amorphous position is any different from what is generally considered "affirmative action". Any of the different policies that would seem to be followed would be "affirmative action" by just a different name.

Additionally, you presume that "that the elites who support affirmative action" have done a poor job explaining their position and discount the possibility as other posters have mentioned that the failure is in the policy and not the public relations.

I know many people who have studied the issue in great deal and still oppose affirmative action based on race. Still yet, you fail to mention why you don't advocate examining different policies to increase political diversity amongst faculty and students.

Gerry said...

"Gerry, I am pro-choice (although not militantly so and would support a ban on partial-birth with exception for the mother),"


Liberal positions, although not militanty so, as you state.

"pro diversity (in all forms),"

Pro diversity (in all forms)? You are for neo-nazis? For Jihadists? I suspect more that you are pro-affirmative action, but believe that it sells better under the almost-meaningless banner "diversity." I am possibly the most conservative commenter on Althouse, and I am very much "pro-diversity."

If you are pro-affirmative action, then please don't muddle it with the mantra of diversity. And it is a liberal position.

"pro some forms of gun control,"

Liberal.

"and support free trade."

Mostly a liberal position, especially in the classical sense. Although for political expedience both sides seem to be changing here.

"I have self-identified as moderate because usually those with my beliefs are called moderate."

Pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-affirmative action are called moderate positions by liberals who want to appeal to moderates. You are a liberal, my friend. I disagree with your positions, but I don't have a problem with people having liberal positions. I do have a problem with leftists (and you do not seem to be-- but "not leftist" does not equal "moderate"). I do have a problem with liberals claiming the center ground as their own.

I am guessing that you are as far from the political center as I am, or maybe just a tad closer. Not much.

The partisan moderate said...

Sorry Gerry, but being pro-choice and against partial birth abortion is where the center of the country is. Being pro- some forms of gun control is also where the middle of the country is. Most people would support allowing people to exercise their second amendment but would restrict gun shows.

Most people support diversity (at least in the abstract) but would be against quotas or quota like goals. That is fairly moderate if slightly left of center. I tend to prefer economic affirmative action though which I believe could accomplish more than racial diversity. You are correct that I should have clarified that I support diversity within reason as I wouldn't support a Klansmen as a professor under the guise of diversity.

Supporting free trade these days might be out of the mainstream though but it would right-of-center not left of center.

I tend to support justices like Roberts and while less enthusiastic about Alito I suppported confirming him as well as did the majority of Americans.

I am more hawkish than the average person and as supporter of the Iraq War (although now having some doubts) that might be slightly out of the mainstream.

If you go on my blog, I say that I am conservative on some issues and liberal on others.

Furthermore, if you call me a liberal and I am one of the more conservative people at my law school you can imagine how far from the center it is and why their is need to actively promote political diversity:)

Anyway, I am planning to go back to watching the Michigan game.

Derve said...

The point of this post is to say that the elites who support [..........] have done a poor job of explaining their policy to the people and persuading them that it is good. I think this is a terrible failing.

Just snip and paste into the next thread on Iraq. For either party.

Save ya some time typing? ;)

The Drill SGT said...

The partisan moderate said...
Ann, I am sorry for misunderstanding your position. However, I do believe your position is slightly disingenuous. You say that you are uncertain if affirmative action is necessary but "assume there are many different policies that might be followed in college admissions and it is not clear to me which would produce the best results."


Let me try to divide the issues here.

1. The public pronouncement by UM etc, seems to be seeking something called "diversity". In and of itself, this "diversity" thing would seem to imply some enhanced learning experience that is valuable for the students that participate (and implied, succeed). Having a "diverse" law school class might have value to its lawyers later in their careers. A diverse law school class would have little ultimate value to a waiter who flunked out.

2. Increasing the number of actual minority law school grads in totality is a different thing. This is the only definition of "diversity" success that ultimately provides value to minority students and their community. Unfortunately, as reflected in Prof Sander's study, it may be that placing second tier students in first year schools and backfilling second tier slots with additional minority 3rd tier students may result in decreasing the overall number of minority bar exam passes as both groups end up in the last quartile of graduates and fail the bar and an extraordinary rate.

bottom line: AA may be good for Law administration guilt and perhaps expose majority students to minority students, but ultimately, there are fewer minority associates starting work each year with AA programs in place. those pesky laws of economics...

Simon said...

The partisan moderate said...
"I tend to support justices like Roberts and while less enthusiastic about Alito I suppported confirming him as well as did the majority of Americans."

Well, the value of that statement may turn on what you thought you were getting. I remember watching the vote, and Olympia Snowe audibly paused answering the call - I've always presumed that she was mentally crossing her fingers that Roberts really was going to uphold Roe. If you supported Roberts because you were convinced that he was another Kennedy, rather than because you thought he was another Rehnquist who did a materful job of fooliwng the Senate that he was another Kennedy, that has a very different import.

Internet Ronin said...

Seven Machos: The Partisan Moderate sure is thin-skinned and easily insulted.

Almost everyone is, at one time or another, for one reason or another. I don't particularly agree with him, but am prepared to cut the guy a little slack for being young and enthusiastic. You were once like that, too, I'm sure.

Just a suggestion - Not a criticism. YMMV

Edward said...

Ann should reveal what she thinks the Michigan “elites” should have said to the masses to persuade them to vote for affirmative action. All she’s done so far is criticize – and severely, at that – the elites for not making their case well enough to prevail at the polls.

Could Ann give some idea of how an elite in support of affirmative action might best go about making such a case in the context of an election such as just occurred in Michigan?

Ann Althouse said...

Edward: Those who have adopted the policy need to convince people that it is good. If not, the democratic choice prevails, and it has. That's all I am trying to say. You act as if I have failed to follow through, but I have not overreached and made assertions beyond what I can support. I am not an expert in the complex policy problem of admissions. You're frustrated by my failure to be an ideologue. Too damned bad.

Derve said...

I'm glad Thanksgiving is coming.
"Edward, Ann... now have some pie."
Ain't it a great country? We could fix a lot of things over coffee and pie.

Edward said...

Ann: That’s not what I meant.

I was wondering whether you or anyone else here thinks that the case for affirmative action needs to be presented in a particular and different way to prevail in a popular election. What form do the arguments in support of affirmative action need to take to persuade a popular audience?

Secondarily, on the assumption that you must have given serious thought to the issue of affirmative action, I was wondering what you think are the strongest arguments in its defense, generally speaking.

You could indicate what you consider to be the best pro-affirmative action arguments without revealing your entire personal stand on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Ann,

Long-time reader, infrequent poster.

I have a great deal of respect for you. I don't always agree with your positions, but I respect them. For instance, I don't agree with your stance on the legality of abortion (under the Constitution), but I understand and respect it. I don't agree with your stance on most feminist issues, but I understand and respect it. I don't agree with your stance on gay marriage, but I understand and respect it. (In fact, most of my dearest friends share your positions on these issues: we don't agree, but we understand and respect each other because we're willing to admit that they are thorny issues, and we're the type of people that feel comfortable 'agreeing to disagree' when we're sure we've had a full discussion on the subject and there's no common ground in sight.)

That said, I don't understand your position on affirmative action (which is not to say that I don't respect it--it's just that you haven't fully articulated it yet).

I am, however, very, very interested to hear your views on it. As a Michigan Law alum (who attended at the height of the Gratz/Grutter cases), I'm quite familiar with the liberal arguments in favor of affirmative action. But you're different than most quasi-liberals (and you're actually quite conservative on many issues), and so I'm curious to know why you aren't opposed to affirmative action.

I understand that you've already said that you're not an expert on the policy, and that you are in favor of giving the university the freedom to experiment. But, but, but, given the wealth of evidence that we have in regards to what happens when we give the universities that freedom (e.g., according to Professor Sanders' last talk at U of M, his latest studies have shown that being an African American is the equivalent to scoring 8-10 points higher on your LSAT when applying to Michigan's law school), I'm curious why you're willing to give admissions' offices the benefit of the doubt when they claim that they are merely "experimenting," when any sort rational review of their efforts makes clear what's going on.

(I trust that I don't need to explain to you the difference that an 8-10 point boost on one's LSAT score can have in one's chance of admission to the top 10 law schools, but I know there are a lot of non-lawyers who read this site, so I'll put it this way: a 3.7 GPA and a 165 on the LSAT should usually allow you admission into the University of Wisconsin's law school, which is currently ranked around 30-35. However, a 3.7 GPA and a 175 on the LSAT should usually allow you into Harvard, Stanford, and maybe Yale, which are currently ranked 3, 2, 1, respectively. Take from that what you will.)

So, as I said, I am very, very curious--given the information that we currently have as to the practices that admissions' offices engage in when making admissions decisions--why you are not opposed to affirmative action. (And I also realize that I may be putting you in a sensitive position by asking you to explain your views on your public blog. But you've expressed controversial opinions on here before, so I hope you won't shy away from this one.)

Anonymous said...

Does Affirmative Action REALLY mean anything?

Has anyone done a definitive study on the students who have, for the sake of argument, failed to get into MU because of their race and what happened to them afterward?

We seem to know that the academically unprepared yet diverse students don’t seem to do as well as the academically prepared, but what of the other side?

Do they attend another school, graduate and go on to successful career, or do they slink off to home with their tail between their legs, sink in to a pit of depression and spend the rest of their lives begging a nights rest on a friend’s couch?

My guess is the former.

Does anybody, other than another alum really CARE where you went to school 10 years down the road? Fives years? Does your college GPA really matter even two years after graduation?

I seriously doubt anyone has been turned down for job because they went to Michigan State instead of MU as little as two years after graduation.

Hell, I could be wrong- it’s been known to happen before- but I haven’t seen it in my experience

Internet Ronin said...

Redneck, I like your style! Unless someone went to Harvard, Yale, or maybe Stanford, it really doesn't matter. No one cares. They definitely don't care what someone's grade point average in school was. In 30 years, I've only heard of a potential employer wanting to see a transcript once, and that was because it did not have grades but narrative evaluations.

The Drill SGT said...

Internet Ronin said...
Redneck, I like your style! Unless someone went to Harvard, Yale, or maybe Stanford, it really doesn't matter.


It doesn't matter, but I'll tell you what, those MIT grads like to weave it into the conversation within the first paragraph. :)

Derve said...

An Edjamikated Redneck:

In the old days, parents -- the father stereotypically -- would tell you to "buck up" when you face disappointment. Life's not unfair. God closes a door, opens a window. Etc. A little sadness, maybe a few tears, life goes on.

Nowadays,
for certain types of children especially, we don't accept "life's not always fair."

Without the parents, would we really be seeing lawsuits like the one Prof. Althouse warns we may see in Wisconsin? I doubt it, for the reasons you mentioned.

AA is a scapegoat. A whipping dog because some parents can't accept that a child just might not be good enough for UW-Madison, no matter the parent's dream. Other kids would accept -- maybe even thrive at a satellite state school.

Some sue.

Btw, have you seen the lawsuits filed when somebody gets stood up for prom these days? Lawyers know how to play the system, that's for sure. And it's the kids who lose out. Never learning to accept their fate and grow up in the real world.

Now I'm wondering who may have originally got turned down from UW Madison, that makes rumblings of an a.a. lawsuit seem so sympathetic... (oh, I can read:)

Anonymous said...

Fellows, that was my point. It isn't about the education, but the status.

No one wants to find out that someone rejected from Michigan went on to have a successful career with a degree from a "lesser" school. That would make this all about the individual, and not the school.

Once that happens, and folks learn that they can be successful paying only half of what the name schools want, there goes the neighborhood; Wal-mart has entered higher education.

Damn The Bad Luck!

Joe Baby said...

AA (the policy ;-) is a joke. Kids are already using genetic testing (a sham in itself) to find out if they are 2.5% Zulu, and if so they can self-declare as black.

It's one thing to "buck up" if you lose to the better candidate. AA makes all those denied question why.

Mortimer Brezny said...

One reason for her success, it seems, is the large number of citizens turned away from the University each year. People don't know exactly why the University rejects them, but missing out on such a significant opportunity offered by the state naturally makes them sensitive to arguments that the process was unfair. It is not surprising that they are hostile to the assurances by the elite decisionmakers that they have a benevolent plan and they are deploying their power competently.

That's the problem for me. I don't have a problem with banning it or having it if a state wants it. But mischaracterizing what it is and getting people to ban it by tricking them about what it is is just wrong.

Auto Report World Editors said...


"This makes about as much sense as discussing the law of rape in an all-male class."


Maybe they shouldn't let women become urologists or men become gynocologists, and while we're at it, only cancer patients should be oncologists.

Oh, and Yo Yo Ma should stick to traditional Chinese music, not European art music.

Can a white goy sing the Jews?

Auto Report World Editors said...

Ann Althouse said...

Kent: I'm not opposed to affirmative action.


Perhaps becaue Prof. Althouse is a member of the cohort that personally benefits most from affirmative action, middle class white women.

Some animals are more equal than others. Two X chromosomes good, one Y chromosome bad.

Auto Report World Editors said...

how many of those 'high gpa, high test score' students don't have all that much to contribute in society or to the pursuit of learning. Often, they're best at just digesting and regurgitating.

I'm sorry but I've never met someone who scored higher than 1400 on the SAT that was a regurgitating digester of someone else's facts. While a competent grind might be able to get a 4 pt, I just don't think it's possible to finesse the SAT.

Derve,

Methinks I detect of whiff of resentment at kids who were smarter than you.

I'm sure that when you choose an attorney or physician you look at the whole person and don't care whether they got good grades in their professional training or high scores on their bar/board exams.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I'm sorry but I've never met someone who scored higher than 1400 on the SAT that was a regurgitating digester of someone else's facts. While a competent grind might be able to get a 4 pt, I just don't think it's possible to finesse the SAT.

True, but you're missing that richer kids have access to prep courses and there are boring, regurgitative smart kids. I got well above a 1400 out of 1600 on mine, but then the average for my high school was around 1400. But a lot of those kids were go-home-right-after-school-study-and-do-nothing-else kinds of kids. I've met janitors and homeless people smarter and more deserving of elite college education than them. I think people overestimate the value of hard work as a kid when your parents are forcing you to do it and you don't do anything else but study. Like, say, develop a personality.

Ann Althouse said...

"Perhaps becaue Prof. Althouse is a member of the cohort that personally benefits most from affirmative action, middle class white women."

I made most of my progress on blind-graded tests, and believe me, I suffered a lot of discrimination when I was in college and before that. I don't feel like enumerating it all, but I was actively held back by teachers and others in ways that would shock you if anyone (in this country) did it today.

Seven Machos said...

Way late here, but two comments:

1. I simoly cannot believe that there are people out there who still think the SAT (or the LSAT or any standardized test) is uncoachable.

2. When I call something someone has said "absurd," that is not an insult to the person who said it. It is an insult to what the person said. When I call you, that's an insult to you.

Auto Report World Editors said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Perhaps becaue Prof. Althouse is a member of the cohort that personally benefits most from affirmative action, middle class white women."

I made most of my progress on blind-graded tests, and believe me, I suffered a lot of discrimination when I was in college and before that. I don't feel like enumerating it all, but I was actively held back by teachers and others in ways that would shock you if anyone (in this country) did it today.


I'm not a law professor but I think that's a non sequitor. Nothing you said contradicts my statement. White middle class women are the primary beneficiaries of AA.

If you're going to base affirmative action on righting past wrongs (as you seem to imply by bringing up prior discrimination against women), why hadn't there ever been affirmative action for Jews? That Jews were discriminated against by elite universities in this country is a historical fact. That Jewish doctors were discriminated against by hospitals is a historical fact. I know Jews of my parents' generation who were discouraged from becoming engineers because the Big 3 automakers, Westinghouse, DuPont and other large companies simply didn't hire Jews as engineers. I know people who wore crucifixes to job interviews so that questions about religious heritage would go unasked.

Now if you say that contemporary academic, professional and economic success by Jews makes this prior discrimination moot, well today there are more females on campus than males, women get a majority of BA/BS degrees, are at parity at most professional schools, and in some cases (like veterinary medicine) are the overwhelming majority of the student body. The educational system fails a large number of males, seems to favor females, and you still want special treatment for women.

Prof. Althouse, all that discrimination has obviously prevented you from achieving your professional goals.

BTW, do tenured law professors at Wisconsin make less than $100K a year?

Auto Report World Editors said...

Seven Machos said...

1. I simoly cannot believe that there are people out there who still think the SAT (or the LSAT or any standardized test) is uncoachable.


I didn't say it was uncoachable. There are test taking strategies that can be learned. However, I'm still skeptical that someone can be coached into the 99th percentile.

Just think how many spaces there would be for Hispanics if the law schools kept out all those pesky [male] Jooos and Gooks who keep messing up all that social engineering with their good grades and test scores.

Ann Althouse said...

Ronnie: I wasted my undergraduate education and didn't go to law school until I was 27, so I lost at least 5 years in building my career, when I simply had no idea how to take myself seriously. This also prevented me from going to a higher ranked law school (where my LSAT would have placed me) and that has affected my entire career. I clawed my way out of a hole with standardized tests and blind-graded law school exams, not by being female. Of course, I recognize that I have a great job, but the question is what would I have achieved if I had not been discriminated against. I think if I had had the same abilities but been a male, I would have had a far, far more sucessful career and I would have felt much more comfortable about it the whole time. (You really are very far off.)

Auto Report World Editors said...

Prof. Althouse,

By your own statements it seems as though your career was hampered by your own choices. You "wasted" your undergraduate education, saying that you didn't take yourself seriously enough. You waited until your late 20s to start law school. It sounds like your own behavior had a significant impact on your supposed lack of professional success.

It would be interesting to see how many males who wasted their undergraduate education, then delayed entering the legal profession are tenured professors at one of America's finest public universities.

I have two male friends who entered the legal profession as middle aged men. One was an accountant (UofMich) and the other a rabbi (Yeshiva U). Both had outstanding LSAT scores and are 98th or 99th percentile on most standardized tests. Due to demands of supporting families, though, they attended a lesser law school, UofDetroit, taking classes at night. They will never be law professors. Should they complain that they were discriminated against for being males in traditional male roles?

You say your career would have been "far, far more sucessful" if you had been a man. I'm just wondering, from the perspective of a highly paid, tenured law professor at one of the three most prestigious public schools, just what that greater success would have been.

If I'm not mistaken, Michigan's law school is higher ranked than Wisconsin's. There are many males on the law faculty in Ann Arbor that are also not at Stanford, Yale, Harvard or Princeton. Can they blame discrimination too?

As I pointed out elsewhere, there is a documented historical history of discrimination against Jews in higher education in this country, particularly by professional schools. Though such discrimination may be in the past ("may", because affirmative action indeed discriminates against Jewish males), no doubt many families still deal with the consequences of such prior discrimination.

When you call for affirmative action for Jews, I'll consider that your support of AA is ideological and consistent, not merely a case of supporting a policy that benefits you personally.

Simon said...

Ann said...
"I recognize that I have a great job, but the question is what would I have achieved if I had not been discriminated against."

My recollection -- from Late Night Confessions, IIRC -- is that you also got something of a lucky break, insofar as, when you started at UW, no one else on the faculty wanted to touch Federal Courts with a barge pole, and so by virtue of your area of interest being considered, I think "arcane" was the word you used, you were able to leap to the front of the queue in teaching that class?


"I think if I had had the same abilities but been a male, I would have had a far, far more sucessful career and I would have felt much more comfortable about it the whole time."

Define "successful." You've contributed some mellifluously-written and interesting scholarship to an important area of law, and attained a respected position as an educator, scholar, and very possibly, a conservative blog diva. That seems to be successful by any definition that I know of.


"[I] didn't go to law school until I was 27"

That makes me feel a little better about having not done so at 26. :p