Georgia Voices: Affirmative Action ruling applauded
by The Savannah Morning News
May 06, 2014 12:00 AM | 6901 views | 1 1 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Georgia and other states deserve latitude in coming up with ways to promote diversity on their college campuses and in other places of public life.

Enlightened people understand the world is far from colorblind. They can also understand and appreciate that there are different ways to achieve that noble goal.

In a healthy democracy, one place to resolve such matters is through public debate — often followed by a trip to the ballot box.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court provided proper guidance in that regard.

In a 6-2 decision, the court recognized voters have the right to decide whether to allow or to mandate schools to grant special consideration to minority groups in the admission process.

A majority of justices didn’t take a position either way on whether such favoritism was beneficial or hurtful. Instead, it ruled states should have the freedom to make this call.

It’s the proper decision.

The Supreme Court’s action stems from a case in Michigan. Eight years ago, 58 percent of the voters there approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting state universities and colleges from giving applicants an edge because of their race or gender. Seven states have similar bans. However, the other 42 states have varying degrees of racial preferences in their college admission practices.

The 2006 amendment didn’t sit well with those who believed modern-day favoritism was needed to erase past inequities. So they sued.

A federal court upheld the amendment, but then an appellate court struck it down. Then the case came to the Supreme Court, which reversed the appellate court’s decision.

Institutions should be committed to diversity.

It should be achieved through constitutional means, as the court recognized.

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May 07, 2014
A major problem with affirmative action is that people grotesquely overestimate the number of people that benefit from it. For example, in Georgia, the only universities that could potentially use affirmative action are UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia Regents (the medical/grad programs only) and Emory. (And Georgia Tech does not use affirmative action in its admissions process ... it never has.) The other Georgia universities are not selective enough to merit affirmative action programs because the schools are relatively easy to get into: they accept over half of their applications. Since the vast majority of Georgians with college degrees DID NOT attend UGA, Emory, or the medical-related programs at Georgia Regents, only a very small number of blacks who obtain college admission and degrees in this state benefited from affirmative action. Yet lots of people believe otherwise.

It is perfectly acceptable to oppose affirmative action on the merits, but the way that a great many conservative activists and radio talk show hosts grossly inflate the number of affirmative action beneficiaries is repulsive. I know why it is done: it increases support for the ending affirmative action issue and for conservative causes and politicians in general, but their willingness to deceive people in the process points to their lack of ethics. It has gotten to the point where any and every black person who succeeds in a field other than athletics or music is accused of being an affirmative action beneficiary when such is not true at all.
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