Gail Heriot is a professor of law at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Prior to entering academia, she practiced law with Mayer, Brown & Platt in Chicago and Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C. She also served as civil rights counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary and clerked for the Honorable Seymour F. Simon of the Illinois Supreme Court. A former editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, Herriot has been published in the Michigan Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Harvard Journal on Legislation, as well as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union Tribune. She is the editor and an author of a forthcoming anthology of essays entitled, California Dreaming: Race, Gender, Proposition 209 and the Principle of Non-Discrimination.
More About Gail Heriot
We now have fewer African-American physicians, scientists, and engineers than we would have had using race-neutral admissions policies. We have fewer college professors and lawyers, too. Put more bluntly, affirmative action has backfired.
Before the <em>Grutter</em> case, constitutional experts thought that the days of race preferential admissions policies were numbered The Supreme Court had never really approved this kind of discrimination.
As well-meaning as affirmative action policies were originally, theyve backfired badly, and, at some point, colleges and universities and the courts are going to have to come to terms with that. (Heriot begins at 10:00.)
Race-preferential admissions were intended to facilitate the entry of minorities into higher education and eventually into high-prestige careers. There is considerable evidence, however, that they have the opposite effect. Affirmative action thus works to the detriment of its supposed beneficiaries, who are seldom informed of this risk.
The assumption behind the fierce competition for admission to elite colleges and universities is clear: The more elite the school one attends, the brighter ones future. That assumption, however, may well be flawed.
Even the most optimistic view of the data shows that racial preferences in law school admissions come at a heavy costa cost that disproportionately falls upon African Americans.