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In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a case that challenged the constitutionality of racial considerations in college admissions. Since then, measures to limit affirmative action have reached many state legislatures, including in Michigan, California and Washington. Is affirmative action a necessary tool to combat racism and social inequality that has historically excluded minorities from higher education? Or has the law outlived its usefulness?
For the motion
John H. McWhorter
Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and weekly columnist for the New York Sun
John's academic specialty is language change and language contact. He is the author of 11 books, including Losing the Race, an anthology of race writings... Read More
Terence J. Pell
President of The Center for Individual Rights (CIR)
Prior to joining CIR in 1997, Pell worked as an attorney with the firm of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn. From 1985 to 1988, he was a deputy... Read More
Joseph C. Phillips
Actor, Social Commentator and Syndicated Columnist
Joseph has written articles for many newspapers and magazines, and his syndicated column appears in papers across the country and online. He was a... Read More
Against the motion
Khin Mai Aung
Staff Attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Aung works on educational equity and youth rights issues, including access to bilingual education and affirmative action. In fall 2006, she worked... Read More
Kimberle W. Crenshaw
Professor of Law at UCLA and at Columbia Law School
Writing in the areas of civil rights, black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law, Kimberlé's articles have appeared in the Harvard... Read More
Writer and Educator
Tim has trained teachers as well as corporate, government, media and law enforcement officials on methods of dismantling institutional racism and... Read More
Where Do You Stand?
For The Motion
While affirmative action was created to serve as a “tiebreaker” between two equally matched candidates, it has been expanded to allow racial preference in the name of campus diversity.
Racial preferences create a stigma around the qualifications of its recipients, and calls into question their ability to succeed in the academic or professional environment.
Enrolling students in universities where their peers are better prepared and better qualified sets them up to do poorly and negates the intended benefits of affirmative action as a social policy.
Students of color should not be expected to serve as a cultural liaison in classrooms; using diversity as a justification for admission is unfair to prospective students.
Against The Motion
Affirmative action rightly corrects a history of oppression and systemic racism that continues to negatively impact people of color.
Affirmative action ensures diversity on campus and in the workplace, to everyone’s benefit.
Using preferences in college admissions, including athletic, legacy, and class-based preferences, is a deeply ingrained practice.
Decisions based on standardized tests and secondary school quality unfairly favor students with more affluent backgrounds; affirmative action serves to mitigate this inequality.