The Right Coast

December 21, 2004
The Case Against Affirmative Action
By Mike Rappaport

Rick Sanders writes:

Traditionally, critics of affirmative action have focused either on its unfairness to those groups that don't receive preferences (usually whites and Asians) or on the inherent conflict between racial preferences and the legal ideal of colorblindness.

Over the last few years, however, a new and potentially even more damaging line of inquiry has emerged: the idea that racial preferences may materially harm the very people they are intended to benefit.

Most legal educators have traditionally assumed that [affirmative action] helps blacks by giving them a more elite degree, better connections and maybe even a better education.

But in fact, my data show, about half of black law students end up in the bottom tenth of their classes. Very low grades lead to much higher attrition (blacks are 2 1/2 times more likely to drop out of law school than whites) and to more trouble on the bar exam (blacks are six times as likely as whites taking the bar to never pass).

My research suggests that in a race-blind system, the proportion of black law students graduating and passing the bar on their first attempt would rise from 45% to at least 65%, and the number of new, certified black lawyers each year would rise about 7%.
For criticism of the op ed, see here.