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The real Affirmative Action, redux
Jan 15th, 2008 by Sam

It is the opinion here in Cause and Effect World that legacy admissions in college and university admissions are affirmative action programs.

So, if you can’t have affirmative action based on race or sex, why should a public university be allowed to have one based on heredity?

Adam Liptak raises this issue in his column “A Hereditary Perk the Founding Fathers Failed to Anticipate” today in the New York Times.

Apparently, it’s okay to let the children of alumni and/or donors in who do not meet the criteria of the institution (let’s be clear on this – they do not meet the admissions criteria of the institution) as long as there is a rational reason.  Which, of course, there is – mommy and daddy give lots of money in the few years before kiddo applies and then pretty much stop once kiddo is accepted.

Do I have to say that almost all the legacy children are white?

So, it is okay to let the loser children in, but not to do anything to redress centuries of exploitation to the descendents of slavery.

As Liptak says,

“The bottom line, as Charles W. Collier put it in The Journal of Legal Education in 2005, is that the University of Michigan would be free to ‘transform itself into the Michigan University for Alumni Children Only without running afoul of the law in any way.’”

But there may be another way to think about it.  Our Constitution specifically bars the federal and state governments from granting titles of nobility through a series of clauses.  Liptak points out,

“Legal distinctions, titles, powers and privileges,” John Adams wrote in 1788, “are not hereditary.”

Note he said, ‘distinctions, titles, power, and privileges.’ Not just titles.

It is on the basis of So Carlton F. W. Larson, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, is arguing that the Constitution’s nobility clauses prohibit legacy preferences at public universities.

Hmmm.  Interesting.  Do you think these kids even know they are there due to affirmative action?  You’d think they’d be in favor of it.

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