On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit released the latest opinion in UT v. Fisher, the ongoing battle over the role of race-based preferences in the University of Texas at Austin’s undergraduate admissions policy. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Circuit had failed to apply the proper strict scrutiny standard to its earlier review of UT’s admissions scheme. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court “must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” He cautioned that, if a non-race-discriminatory approach could bring about UT’s stated goal of a “critical mass” of campus diversity, “then the university may not consider race.” The Court remanded the case back to the Fifth Circuit. This week, two of the three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel concluded that the use of race was, indeed, necessary.
Judge Emilio Garza’s dissent (beginning on page 44) criticizes the majority opinion for deferring impermissibly to UT’s claims, despite the Supreme Court’s instruction. He writes, “Although the University has articulated its diversity goal as a ‘critical mass,’ surprisingly, it has failed to define this term in any objective manner.” He later writes, “The majority entirely overlooks the University’s failure to define its ‘critical mass’ objective for the purposes of assessing narrow tailoring. This is the crux of this case — absent a meaningful explanation of its desired ends, the University cannot prove narrow tailoring under its strict scrutiny burden.”
How much diversity is a critical mass of diversity? Is this a unit of measure like a team of oxen or a murder of crows? How can a court possibly determine whether a given policy is necessary to achieve critical mass if we don’t know what that is? UT isn’t exactly the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, but a little bit more precision would be helpful.
The concept of critical mass is problematic for many reasons. Its vagueness provides a poor measure for reviewing courts. It packs in several dubious assumptions about the meaning of race. Here’s one more reason why “critical mass” is such a critical mess . . . .
* After losing before the Supreme Court, the University of Texas affirmative action admissions program looked to be in serious trouble. But the Fifth Circuit just ruled that the UT policy met the strict-scrutiny analysis mandated by the Court. The lesson for Abigail Fisher is once more, “How about you get better grades instead of whining?” Or at least “Get politically connected.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Apple agrees to a conditional $450 million settlement with the NYAG’s office in the e-book suit. So you might get some money back from the 50 Shades of Grey purchase. [Reuters]
* The Manassas city police have decided not to engage in kiddie porn pursuant to a warrant. Good for them. [Washington Post]
* “Judges are not deities. They are humans.” Let’s not tell Lat, the shock might kill him. [Katz Justice]
* The hell? Parents arrested for letting their 9-year-old go to the park alone? Suffocating parenting is bad enough without the government expecting it of parents. [Slate]
* CPAs are suing the IRS because the regulation of tax preparers lacks Congressional approval. Because we need more folks off the street claiming to be tax preparers. [TaxProf Blog]
* Lawyer and former South Carolina GOP executive director Todd Kincannon is under investigation by the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel for basically being a dick on Twitter. As Ken White notes, the First Amendment is all about giving guys like this a forum. [Slate]
The only thing more obsolete than this building is what is inside it.
Some students at the University of Chicago Law School are up in arms because the school’s law review rejected a diversity proposal recommended by the school’s faculty. This rejection leaves Chicago’s law review as the only one at a top law school without any diversity component for choosing student staffers.
UPDATE (8:00 p.m.): A Chicago tipster clarifies: “While the faculty supported the Chicago Law Review diversity proposal, it was written and proposed by law review leadership,” which advocated for it strongly.
This is the point in the post where everybody, including my colleagues, expects me to scream RACEISM™ and jump up and down on the generally right-leaning law school. But honestly, I just don’t care. I just don’t give a damn if a law school is choosing spots on its law review fairly, unfairly, with racial animus, or based on cup size. NOBODY READS THEM. More people will read this post about the Chicago Law Review than will actually read the law review.
And really, if we’re going to pretend that getting on to law review is some important measure of student success or achievement, then maybe Chicago Law needs to do a better job of educating minority and female students at the school so that they might achieve at the same level of success as the white males who “win” this generally irrelevant prize….
Reason enough why no country should ever engage in the practice of Affirmative Action again. This could be the result. Where would she be if she didn’t hit the quota lottery? Here’s a hint: “Would you like to supersize that sir?”
* Meow! Last week, in a rare move, Justice Sonia Sotomayor let the world see that she’s not exactly the best of friends with Chief Justice John Roberts through her fiery dissent in the Schuette affirmative action case. [National Law Journal]
* The Am Law 100 law firm rankings are out, and 2013 is being described as a “middling” year for most Biglaw firms. On the bright side, it looks like the big and rich got even bigger and richer. We’ll have more on this later. [American Lawyer]
* Secrets, secrets are no fun: The search for a new dean is on at George Washington University Law, but professors say they were “sworn to secrecy” on the candidates who’ve visited campus. [GW Hatchet]
* “It’s not about me getting the money; it’s about showing the NFL you can’t do this.” Ex-Vikings punter Chris Kluwe may sue the team after being cut for expressing positive views on gay marriage. [NBC Sports]
* Donald Sterling’s wife ain’t sayin’ V. Stiviano is a gold digger — she’s alleging V. Stiviano is a gold digger. This, plus the accusations of racism against Sterling, is a flagrant foul. [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]
Calm down, affirmative action supporters, calm down. Yes, the Supreme Court just gave every state the authority to ban affirmative action in college admissions if they so choose. Yes, Stephen Breyer sided with the majority. Yes, this all looks incredibly bad if you think that race should be at least as allowable a consideration for admission as whether or not an applicant’s daddy went to the school.
But nothing is f**ked here dude. Not really. Colleges will still use some form of race-conscious admissions policies, even state schools. Affirmative action works and nothing that happened today will change that. The Court just made it more likely that admissions committees will have to get creative when putting together a diverse class of students…
A few days ago, Elie Mystal wrote about recent allegations of racist student conduct at the UCLA School of Law. I invite readers unfamiliar with the background to catch up by reading Elie’s post and, if you’ve the stomach for it, some of the many comments on his post. (It’s okay. I’ll wait.)
UCLA Dean Rachel Moran called for a police investigation. She alerted the student body. She agreed to meet with student leaders. From all I can see, the law school administration has so far handled the events appropriately. The official response balances the risk of dismissing the allegations or their importance with the risk of over-reacting and potentially polarizing the campus further.
I disagree with much of Elie’s criticism of the law school as a whole, as I disagreed with him about the Team Sanders situation at UCLA last fall.
Still, I didn’t originally want to write about UCLA this week. I drafted a post on another topic, in fact. But something about the UCLA situation, Elie’s post, and, perhaps most of all, the responses from many readers gnawed away at me. It hurt my heart. And when the desiccated husk that passes for my world-weary heart hurts, there’s usually something to it . . . .
It started with “Team Sander.” In November, we told you that some students at UCLA Law School started wearing T-shirts in support of UCLA law professor Richard Sander, whose scholarship is racially divisive. Some people argued that the shirts were not racially motivated, and even some of my colleagues argued that they needed to “know more” about the intentions behind the shirts before they started calling people racist.
Well… now we know more, and “racist” seems like the only appropriate way to describe at least some students at UCLA Law. Now the question becomes: does the law school administration give a crap?
* California is eyeing a referendum to allow affirmative action considerations to be employed in college admissions for the first time in almost 20 years. Surely the same people who passed Prop 8 will be enlightened enough to do something proactive about systemic discrimination. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* The art of negotiation and terrible cigars. [Katz Justice]
* And I joined Mike Sacks and Jessica Mederson on Legalese It! today. So check out our rousing discussion of the State of the Union v. Supreme Court, Foxy Knoxy’s extradition fears, and California’s decision to keep disgraced journalist Stephen Glass out of the legal profession. Video below… [HuffPost Live]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
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