Debate Forum, 10/16

A ffirmative Action once again reviewed by high court

Last week, attorneys argued the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, before the United States Supreme Court. The case concerned the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin. Brought by undergraduate Abigail Fisher, who was denied admission in 2008, the case asked that the court either declare the admissions policy of the university inconsistent with or, in the alternative, entirely overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that race could play a limited role in the admissions policies of universities. If the Court were to overrule Grutter, it could end affirmative action policies in admissions at U.S. public universities.

The justices chose to reconsider affirmative action principles in Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin. They focused on two central questions: how the university uses race in admissions and whether the university’s goal of achieving a “critical mass” of minority students is sufficiently limited and defined to pass constitutional muster.

During oral argument, Chief Justice John Roberts asked the attorney for the University of Texas, “What is the critical mass of African-Americans and Hispanics at the university that you are working toward?” The chief justice never received a specific answer from the university’s lawyer, in all likelihood because of a tension in the Court’s precedents which reject quotas but allow public universities to use race in admissions decisions as but one unquantifiable factor among many. To cite a specific number at where “critical mass” is achieved would arguably leave the Texas school’s affirmative action program vulnerable to being classified as a quota.


By the conclusion of the oral argument in Fisher, it seemed fairly clear from their questioning that the four members of the Court’s conservative wing were ready to consider a revision to the Grutter decision. It was equally clear that the Court’s more liberal members believed there was no reason to abandon the earlier framework. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is in his now-familiar role as the swing vote.

For more than three decades, the Supreme Court has found that the Constitution allows academic programs to consider race as one factor in admissions, provided the program meets certain hurdles: it must serve a compelling state interest and be as limited as possible.

More recently, the issue was addressed in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger.  In the majority opinion in the Grutter case, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Court rejected the use of racial quotas in admissions decisions but said that race could be used as one factor among many, as part of a “holistic review.”

Universities argue that, as it is now applied, affirmative action is largely a voluntary commitment by leading institutions that are convinced it is in their self-interest to enlarge opportunities for historically disfavored groups, because it helps fulfill their missions.

Affirmative action is controversial in part because there are conflicting views about what equal protection means as applied to affirmative action policies. Does the Constitution permit race-conscious programs that provide minorities with opportunities, even though it prohibits programs that exclude minorities because of their race? Or does such a policy of affirmative action that treats individuals differently, at least in part because of race and ethnicity, violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution?

Forum Question of the Week:

At a time in our history when the United States has elected an African-American as President, do we still need affirmative action programs for colleges, universities and other institutions for the purpose of building opportunities for historically disfavored groups?

Debate Left

Perhaps she should have just concentrated on “action”

By Ben Tomkins

The fact that this troll went straight to race to excuse her failure to get into the University of Texas at Austin is all the validation the university could ever want that their application process worked brilliantly in preventing stupid, crazy people from disgracing their campus.

First things first:  UT has a policy called “The Top Ten Percent Plan,” which guarantees admission to the top 10 percent of every graduating class in Texas regardless of race. They pull 81 percent of their students from this pool. Duncy was in the top 12 percent. So right there, she needs to shut her mouth. If you want to go to UT that badly, then pry yourself away from Facebook and … read. Preferably a book on critical thinking. That probably had far more to do with your denied application than skin color.

After that, UT selects the remaining 19 percent of their student body using a “holistic” admissions policy, meaning that they consider the entire applicant portfolio instead of straight test scores and GPA.  Factors could include things like artistic merit, discipline-related distinction, impoverished circumstances, leadership qualities, race and my personal favorites, “interesting skill sets” and “strong letters of recommendation.”

As compared to race, I believe those last two are probably of much greater concern to Princess, seeing as how her only extra-curricular activities were orchestra and math competitions – in which she apparently failed to distinguish herself in terms of artistic or intellectual merit – and volunteering for Habitat Humanity – like every other high school kid in the country who has a community service requirement.

What do you think?  UT has one of the best jazz programs in the country. Do they have an interest in attracting the best musicians even if they’re autistic savants, or should Mingus put those bass-playing fingers to good use in the cotton field so the bland, pasty academic equivalent of Quik-Oats can live out her dream of being completely and utterly forgettable in an even larger school than the one in which she was completely and utterly forgettable in the first place?

Geez, you’d think she’d be more pissed off at the football program than anything else. Then she could put the crosshairs of her petulant tantrum on black AND alternatively-talented people.

More pissed, that is, with one exception.  I offer the following sentence:

“George Bush got into Yale completely on his own merits.”



Considering athletics, the arts and a few other distinguished individuals, what are we down to here, 2-3 percent of the remaining student population? And we haven’t even started talking about race?

If you’re already that far down the totem pole, getting into UT is basically serendipitous, and I don’t want to hear about how some “negro” screwed you over.  Work a little harder at the fiddle, spend an extra hour doing your homework and do your best to enjoy your time at LSU.

Wait, I didn’t mention that?  She’s finishing up a degree at LSU this year.  Can you believe this bitch is still whining about this?  Oh my god!

Guys: if you see this chick staring at you during class, GET OUT OF YOUR CHAIR AND RUN. The only reason to shower-pool with Lady Ga-Gorgon is to strangle her with your soap-on-a-rope in a desperate attempt to rid yourself of a spiteful, vengeful, pit-viper who believes the reason you didn’t spend the night is not because you have a test in the morning and are already exhausted from her endless filibustering, but because you’re going off to screw your non-Caucasian girlfriend. At UT. Which you probably are. Because she has “interesting skill sets.”

Look, there are 50,000 students at UT, and she was already aiming at the last 50 slots.  Even her friend, who was initially a co-defendant, let this go in 2011 to focus on her law degree at SMU. Veruca Salt needs to give it up and move on with what I can only imagine is a hopelessly pathetic life if this is all she has left.

Benjamin Tompkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist, and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colo. He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of the issue.

Reach Ben Tompkins at

Debate Right

Supreme Court hears challenge to race-based college admissions

by Mark Luedtke

The media would have us believe that the Supreme Court is hearing a titanic case that could overturn affirmative action in college admissions. This is unlikely. This case is about determining how much affirmative action is too much, not overturning it entirely.

The Court last addressed affirmative action in college admissions in 2003 in a case decided along party lines, a sure sign the issue was decided by politics, not law. Sandra Day O’Connor wrote a goofy decision which tossed out quotas and substituted vague terms like “holistic” approach and “critical mass” to justify the discrimination it endorsed.

To meet the “critical mass” diversity requirement of the 2003 decision, the University of Texas accepts the top 10 percent of students from all high schools, and since many Texas schools are highly segregated, that means it accepts many minority students. The University also uses race as a factor in determining the rest of the students it accepts. Plaintiff Abigail Fisher believes the first policy is sufficient to meet the legal standard and that her application was rejected in favor of a less qualified minority student by the secondary policy. She believes she is the victim of institutionalized discrimination because she is white.

This case will also be decided along party lines. It takes five justices to overturn the 2003 decision, so that means political swing vote, Justice Kennedy, is likely to decide the case. He dissented in the 2003 case, but as Justice Roberts taught us during the Obamacare case, you never know who might get to him and influence his decision.

It’s unfortunate the scope of this case is so tiny. Americans deserve an honest discussion and appraisal of affirmative action. While the press uses the term “diversity” to hide what’s really going on here, economist Walter Williams cuts through the baloney, “Diversity is an elitist term used to give respectability to acts and policy that would otherwise be deemed as racism.”

Progressives have so grossly distorted reality by pushing their phony ideology of group identity, it’s impossible to have an honest discussion about diversity until we inform people of the real consequences.

Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam set out to study the benefits of diversity, but to his horror, “[He] found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.” So much for the claim that promoting diversity for diversity’s sake is a good thing.

Economist Thomas Sowell provides some inconvenient facts for progressives about affirmative action, “The history of blacks in the United States has been virtually stood on its head by those advocating affirmative action. The empirical evidence is clear that most blacks got themselves out of poverty in the decades preceding the civil rights revolution of the 1960s and the beginning of affirmative action in the 1970s. Yet, the political misrepresentation of what happened ­– by leaders and friends of blacks – has been so pervasive that this achievement has been completely submerged in the public consciousness. Instead of gaining the respect that other groups have gained by lifting themselves out of poverty, blacks are widely seen, by friends and critics alike, as owing their advancement to government beneficence.” So, affirmative action has widened the racial divide and handicapped the advancement of blacks to the profit of racial agitators.

Progressives might attack Williams and Sowell like they savaged Stacey Dash for supporting Mitt Romney, calling them Uncle Toms and worse, but we have to face the fact that the government’s use of coercion to institutionalize discrimination is the biggest obstacle to overcoming racial discrimination. As Justice Roberts said, “[The] way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at

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Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at

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