Does DOJ’s new guidance to public schools about using race as a factor in admissions jive with Grutter/Gratz?

December 3rd, 2011

Obama guidelines: “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

Colleges seeking to increase diversity while not running afoul of Supreme Court guidelines, the new document says, “could select schools (including community colleges) based on their demographics (e.g., their racial or socioeconomic composition), and grant an admission preference” to graduates of those schools. They could also “select high schools for partnership” based, among other things, on “racial composition of the school’s student body” and former partnerships with historically black colleges and universities”; consider race as they select students for mentoring programs; and sponsor retention or support programs that highlight, for example, “the accomplishments of Latino business leaders.”

I don’t know.

Lee Bollinger (of all people) thinks its Kosher:

“It’s a very fair interpretation of what the court decided,” said Mr. Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar who is now president of Columbia University, “which is primarily that race can be one of many factors, and as long as your policies truly embody that approach, you’ll be fine, and can strive for diversity in all its benefits.”

Maybe we should ask Justice O’Connor? I already started the 25-year countdown. Only 16 years to go!

George Will took the position that affirmative action and racial preferences actually harms the minorities they aim to help. llya Somin has some comments here.

If the goal of racial preferences is promoting “diversity,” then it does not matter much whether minority students are potentially harmed by them. If, on the other hand, the goal is compensating groups victimized by major historic injustices, it matters a great deal.