Many colleges have largely disregarded the U.S. Supreme Court’s admonition to seriously consider other options before using race-conscious admissions policies, argues a forthcoming Catholic University Law Review article co-written by a former federal civil-rights official.
The majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, involving the University of Michigan’s law school, held that colleges must first give “serious, good-faith consideration” to “workable, race-neutral” alternatives to achieving diversity if their race-conscious admissions policies are to be considered narrowly tailored to promoting a compelling government interest.
But colleges have received little or no guidance from the courts or federal government on how to meet such a requirement, and as a result they “appear to be floundering,” argues the law-review article. The authors are George R. LaNoue, a professor of political science and public policy at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and Kenneth L. Marcus, a visiting professor at the City University of New York’s Baruch College who served as staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2004 until this year and as a top lawyer in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights before that.
The issue of how to comply with the Grutter decision’s guidance should not be as difficult for college administrators or the courts as it appears to be, because educational-program evaluation “is a well-developed field with established methodologies and standards,” the article argues. It warns that “administrators’ failure to apply proper program analysis to race-neutral alternatives could jeopardize many diversity programs.” —Peter Schmidt