Thursday, December 09, 2004

Racial Preferences and the Law Schools

A while back I mentioned the forthcoming, controversial, in-depth statistical study by Richard Sander who concluded that "Blacks are the victims of law school programs of affirmative action, not the beneficiaries." Stuart Taylor of the National Journal provides a recap of the story. One of the things Sander is suggesting is that ending racial preferences would actually increase the number of black lawyers. The reason is that with the current practice of racial preference, whereby average students are accepted into elite universities, the black students are so much less qualified academically that they end up at the bottom of their class and drop out in disproportionate numbers. In other words, according to Sander--who is himself a political liberal--racial preferences "significantly worsen blacks' individual chances of passing the bar by moving them up to schools at which they will frequently perform badly." The result, Sander thinks, is that while the number of blacks at elite universities would plummet, the number of blacks at middle-tier universities would rise, thus increasing the chances that blacks will pass the bar and actually become lawyers.

This seems commonsensical to me. Racial preferences, though, has become a untouchable dogma in the academic world. Which is why Sander's massive study is proving so controversial.

(Hat tip: Powerline)