The case for Breyer’s concurrence in Schuette
So when Justice Sotomayor criticises Michigan’s amendment for “forcing the minority alone to surmount unique obstacles in pursuit of its goals” (emphasis added) she is barking up the wrong tree. Justice Breyer noticed this error in his concurrence, as did Justice Scalia: “race-based admissions policies may not constitutionally be ‘designed for [the] purpose,’…of benefiting primarily racial minorities, but must be designed for the purpose of achieving educational benefits for students of all races.”
Educational diversity may not be the best reason for universities to pursue affirmative action, but it is the only rationale that the Court has ever endorsed. So for Justice Sotomayor to argue that Michigan voters have unjustly stripped racial minorities of a right to press for affirmative action is to misconstrue the constitutional basis of these programmes. For better or for worse, affirmative action in the educational context has never been approved as a device to ameliorate America’s race problem writ large. De facto segregation and racial inequality will only grow as states wishing to ban race-conscious admissions programmes do so with the explicit blessing of the Supreme Court, but Schuette couldn’t have been decided any other way.
The liberal case against affirmative action
This book shatters the notion that affirmative action is helpful even for the students that are the so called beneficiaries. The premise of the book is actually quite simple and nonracial. The premise of mismatch theory is that people who enter a school with an academic index (some composite of GPA and standardized test scores such as ACT, SAT, MCAT, LSAT) considerably lower than their peers will do worse in school than their peers; whereas people who enter a school with an academic index comparable to the average will do much better. A second principle of mismatch theory is that how well one does compared to their peers largely predicts how successful their future schooling will be; even graduation rates. These two theories say that if one has a significantly lower academic index than their peers, then they will be ill-served by attending a more prestigious/elite/challenging university where they will likely struggle academically.
The authors of this book are liberals, true blue bleeding heart liberals. They even use the pronoun “her” generically instead of “his” sometimes because they are liberals and think that kind of stuff is important. The authors of this book were not trying to find data to support their worldview, they both previously supported affirmative action but have changed their worldview because of the data. This should give confidence to liberals who might otherwise be prejudiced against the argument if it was made by a conservative, although ‘mismatch’ was a term coined by black conservative Thomas Sowell, who makes the same argument.