Thursday, July 14, 2011

Final Debate

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!


  1. you are right... you can also find latest Admission Requirements alerts online.

  2. Eric,

    While your argument may be legally correct, I'm afraid that if I were the judge or the jury my own personal thoughts on the matter would cancel out your argument.

    I'm one of those politically incorrect people who believes that EQUAL rights actually means that we treat all people equally.

    I use as a litmus test for admissions biases, organizations and political organizations: replace your ethnicity or gender preference with "white" and "male" and ask if it would still be socially acceptable.

    Instead of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People), try the NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of WHITE People). Instead of the BLACK Student Union, how about the WHITE Student Union?

    Would anyone stand for an organization promoting the advancement of white people (think KKK)?

    Where EMILY's List is designed to promote women in politics, what would people think if there was a similar organization solely promoting men?

    So how can any school say they are adhering to any "equal" rights laws if they give preferential treatment to any race, the ethnicity or gender?

    This is what prompted the Bakke Decision back in '76.

    Even when I was getting ready to go to college the US was evolving from their discriminatory ways of doing things and people wanted to make up for the 400 years of oppression of minorities. To compensate they went overboard t the point that I was advised multiple times to not even bother to apply to some schools or for some scholarships since they simply weren't going to take care of a white male.

    Shouldn't EQUAL rights means EQUAL rights?

  3. Yes, equal rights should mean equal rights. However, in this scenario,race wasn't the only deciding factor. While the two were mirror images of each other in terms of academics and testing, Baker did leadership while Lopez did leadership AND played sports. Yes, Lopez received points for his race, but Baker also received points for legacy. Given that in Baker's parent's generation that it was mostly white individuals that attended college, is it not discrimination to reward points for legacy when it will apply, for the vast majority, to white applicants?

    Furthermore, in the grand scheme of things 3 points out of 150 isn't a significant amount. It counts for a mere 2%. And according to Regents of the University of California v. Bakke Justice Powell stated in the majority opinion that affirmative action only violates the Constitution if the university uses a strict quota system to admit students. He also states that affirmative action is protected by the Constitution if race is one of several factors that an institution reviews when looking through an application. The UNY looked holistically at the applications considering in additions to test scores and academics and "others" which include leadership, legacy, talents, socio-economic background, and race. Thus the university is just in applying affirmative action.

    In response to your reference to the KKK and why no one stands up for them isn't just because they are racist. The reason why no one backs them is because they call for violence against African Americans.

    As for women, I believe that they, as well as minorities, have made very significant strides into areas previously dominated by white males. The reason why an pro-women group would be backed is that unlike men, women were viewed to be inferior and should not attend college. The idea of the a group like the EMILY's List is to get women on an equal playing field.

    While minorities and women gain become more prevalent in areas such as jobs and college, it is inevitable that the majority will lose some percentage in terms of the amount of people working at attending college. But given that you are an equal rights activist, then is it fair to keep the white community as the majority while other races or genders are left in the dust? I think not.