So, for our final debate, my group has a pretty difficult task at hand. Our mock case, Baker v. University of New York, deals with two students: Baker and his Mexican neighbor, Lopez. Both applied to the UNY and only his Mexican neighbor got in, even though both were just as qualified. In order to determine who is admitted to the school, UNY used a point system where 150 points is the maximum. The 150 points are divided into 70 points for academics, 60 points for testing, and 20 points for "other" which includes leadership, legacy, talents, socio-economic background, and race. In the academic and test categories, both students had the exact same score. The difference between the two is in the "other" category. Baker received points for leadership and legacy while his neighbor received fewer points for legacy, points for soccer, and points for being Mexican. It was the points for being Mexican that gave Baker's neighbor a one point advantage. In the end, Baker wasn't admitted and his neighbor was. Baker argues that the school violated the equal protection act of the 14th Amendment...and my team is defending the university.
Given that the only difference between the two is that Lopez received points for his race and was accepted I find my team caught in a corner because basically every case dealing with affirmative action has gone against us. So, instead to give our argument credit, we're going to quote from the dissenting opinions of affirmative action cases. In addition, we plan to interpret the equal protection act of the 14th Amendment as a strict textualist.
Our argument stems from the 14th Amendment which states "...No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws..." The equal protection clause clearly applies to only law—not the application process of a university. Because there is no law stating that the University of New York must use affirmative action, then the equal protection act cannot be applied.
We also argue that even if the equal protection clause applied then it has been ruled in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke that affirmative action can be applied in a narrow sense. According to Justice Powell, the "use of race was permissible as one of several admission criteria." He goes on to say that the only situation where affirmative action is uncalled for is when there is a strict quota that the institution must fulfill. Because the UNY doesn't have a quota and reviews the applications holistically, then affirmative action is justified.
This argument is upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger where Justice O'Conner states "narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." and "in the context of its individualized inquiry into the possible diversity contributions of all applicants, the Law School's race- conscious admissions program does not unduly harm nonminority applicants."
Hopefully, with this evidence, my team can emerge victorious and end the class on a high note!