Affirmative Action Almost Got Me Into Law School
December 4, 2002
In 1992, I was only one step away from getting accepted into law school with a full scholarship because of affirmative action. And I would have been able to pull it off if only the color of my skin had been black!
This week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to decide whether minorities should continue to be allowed to have special consideration in order to get into colleges and universities. Specifically, the Supreme Court justices will ponder whether certain white applicants to the University of Michigan law school were rejected unconstitutionally because of their race based on the Fourteenth Amendment.
This subject is extremely personal to me. In the Spring of 1992, I was completing my undergradate work at the University of Tennessee at Martin. I had majored in Political Science/English and was heavily involved in the pre-law program. I thought I wanted to go to law school at the time (I later decided against it after working for two large corporate law firms in Memphis, Tennessee).
In my upper-level political science classes, the issue of affirmative action came up quite often and was heatedly discussed. In my opinion, affirmative action has been and will always be discrimination in an effort to prevent discrimination. Some people like to call it reverse discrimination, but I do not. The practice of allowing a black person to be chosen to enter a college over a white person with an equal or better academic record is direct discrimination to the fullest. Affirmative action has never made sense to me. That is why I decided to embark on a personal crusade to challenge it.
At the urging of my pre-law advisor in my senior year at the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1992, I filled out an application to apply for an affirmative action slot available at the University of Tennessee law school. Since there was no mention of race anywhere on the application (I guess they assume that you are a minority if you are applying), I completed the application factually and my answers were thoroughly honest.
The academic requirements to qualify for the affirmative action consideration required that I have a GPA of 3.0 and score at a certain moderate acheivement level on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Since I met and exceeded both of these requirements, I was qualified to be admitted based only on those standards.
You can imagine my surprise when I received a response from the University of Tennessee law school a few weeks later accepting my application to enter the school as one of their affirmative action candidates.
I would have been able to pull it off, BUT...
They wanted me to come in for an interview with them before beginning law school. Of course, if I had done that then my ruse would have been revealed. I decided not to pursue it further (although my pre-law advisor thought I would have had a strong case to pursue against the affirmative action policies at the University of Tennessee law school since I was approved on every level except for the color of my skin).
Ten years later, I sometimes wish that I had challenged the constitutionality of affirmative action in law school admissions. The upcoming Supreme Court decision will be an important one indeed with far-reaching consequences either way it decides.
Proponents of affirmative action claim that affirmative action is needed in order for the United States to be diversified in every aspect of society. There’s an old German word for that -- hogwash! Black people have many of the same opportunities as white people do to be educated and function in today’s society. This stale excuse of inequality is antiquated!
The notion that there needs to be a lower standard for minorities than for white people should be extremely insulting to black people. Nevertheless, affirmative action does exactly that.
Supporters of affirmative action argue that since there is such a blatant void of black students being admitted into colleges and universities in America, we must do something to change that. WHY?!?!?! Don’t we want our best and brightest students to be admitted into the best schools regardless of their race? Is it fair to those white students who will be denied access to law school who have higher test scores and a higher GPA than the black student who was admitted because of affirmative action?
That is what opponents of affirmative action are angry about. And actually, in states where affirmative action programs do not currently exist (California, Florida, Texas and Washington), the number of black students attending college is increasing. This proves that race does not have to be a determining factor in admissions for schools across the country.
A sharply-divided appeals court upheld the University of Michigan law school’s admission practices in May 2002 claiming the Constitution allows colleges and graduate schools to seek “a meaningful number” of minority students as long as the school avoids quotas.
But, how do they do that? Even if the school were to avoid identifying a specific number of applicants (quotas), making sure the school accepts minorities will always be a major consideration. And that is what is most disturbing about affirmative action because these applicants may not meet the same necessary academic level that is required by the white applicants.
The issue, from a legal standpoint, is very muddy. The courts have ruled in the past that affirmative action is constitutional as long as there are no quotas.
BUT...AFFIRMATIVE ACTION = QUOTAS
There is no such thing as affirmative action without quotas. Can someone please try to explain to me how colleges can discriminate on the basis of race without having some measure for accepting or rejecting applicants based on their skin color? It just doesn’t add up.
The U. S. Supreme Court must declare affirmative action unconsitutional once and for all. Equal opportunity exists for every American willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to achieve their dreams. It is time for us to stop pursuing a free ride and start utilizing the freedom that we have in America to become what we were born to be.