September 7, 2007

U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS DIVIDED ON WHETHER AFFIRMATIVE ACTION MIGHT HARM MINORITY LAW STUDENTS

by Patricia A. Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

On August 28, 2007, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a briefing report entitled “Affirmative Action in American Law Schools.” Commenting on the report, Commission Chair Gerald A. Reynolds said, “Race-based admissions have been found to harm minority law students by setting them up for failure.” However, there was not unanimous agreement on the Commission over the findings, recommendations, and focus of the report. In a “vehement” joint dissent, Commissioners Arlan D. Melendez and Michael J. Yaki, wrote, in part, “The simple fact is that without affirmative action, even today many African American, Native American, and Hispanic students would never become lawyers and almost none would attend the country’s elite law schools.”

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