An initiative that would have banned racial and ethnic preferences in Arizona governments will not appear on the ballot this year, but evidence of the need for such action continues to grow with the release today of two studies that document massive racial preferences at the state's two public law schools.
The reports by the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) examine racial and ethnic data for applicants to the University of Arizona and Arizona State University law schools in 2006 and 2007. They found that the odds of a black applicant's admission to ASU were 1,100 times greater than a white applicant's; and 250 times greater at the University of Arizona. Out of roughly 75 similar studies conducted across the country, the preferences at ASU "were the largest ever found by CEO."
The ASU report found that among applicants in 2007 with the median black LSAT and grade-point averages, over 98 percent of black applicants were admitted compared to fewer than 10 percent of whites. Hispanic applicants with the same credentials were admitted far less often than blacks, but far more often than whites.
Law schools should grant admission based either on purely objective criteria or special individual characteristics, without using race or ethnicity as a proxy for diversity or disadvantage. Moreover, in an increasingly multi-ethnic society, it is absurd to force people to check a racial or ethnic box that will determine in large measure their opportunities. As CEO's Roger Clegg aptly put it, "The whole enterprise is something that should give Americans the creeps."
True equal opportunity requires expanding educational opportunities at the K-12 level, not pretending that certain students are more qualified than they are. Ending government's power to classify and discriminate among people on the basis of race is a good way to hasten that process.
Clint Bolick is the director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.
Center for Equal Opportunity: CEO Releases New Studies Documenting Racial and Ethnic Preferences in U of A and ASU Admissions