Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Asian-Americans, affirmative action, and the “political restructuring” doctrine: Does the doctrine work when there are minority groups on both sides of the issue?

From the Washington Post: "Today’s Supreme Court decision upholding Michigan’s state constitutional amendment banning racial preferences in state university admissions turned on the “political restructuring” doctrine, which holds that shifting a decision on a public policy issue from one level or branch of government to another is sometimes unconstitutional if it disadvantages minorities. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor put it in her dissenting opinion, the doctrine applies in cases where the state “reconfigur[es] the existing political process… in a manner that burdened racial minorities.” In the 1982 Seattle case, the Court explained that the doctrine forbids “a political structure that treats all individuals as equals, yet more subtly distorts governmental processes in such a way as to place special burdens on the ability of minority groups to achieve beneficial legislation.” Sotomayor argues that the amendment should have been invalidated because, by adopting a state-wide ban on racial preferences by referendum, the voters shifted the decision on affirmative action policies from university administrators and thereby disadvantaged minorities in the political process.

"But, in reality, banning racial preferences in admissions affects different minorities in different ways. It may well burden African-Americans, Hispanics, and other groups favored by affirmative policies currently practiced in universities (though the literature on educational mismatch suggests that the benefits are not unambiguous). But current affirmative action policies also often harm those minority groups that score well on conventional academic admissions standards, most notably Asian-Americans. Thus, it cannot be said that the Michigan amendment is a straightforward case of burdening racial minorities while benefiting the majority. In reality, the policy affects different minority groups in different ways." Read the article: Asian-Americans, affirmative action, and the “political restructuring” doctrine: Does the doctrine work when there are minority groups on both sides of the issue? By Ilya Somin, Washington Post, April 22

Related links:

"A legislative bid to partially reinstate preferential treatment for racial minorities in the college admissions process was defeated in California earlier this month, thanks to a grassroots campaign spearheaded by Asian Americans who had no desire to watch deserving applicants cast aside by racist, progressive social policy.

"The proposal would have put an amendment on the November general election ballot to exempt colleges and universities from a portion of Proposition 209 – passed in 1996 – that prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity and national origin.

"But a robust effort led by Asian Americans already weary of having to score “140 points more than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 more points than blacks” on the SAT college entrance exam defeated the partisan effort." Asian Americans Defeat Progressive California Effort To Institute Affirmative Action In College Admissions by Ben Bullard, March 24, 2014 Personal Liberty Digest

Are white women the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action? Affirmative Action Debate - By Caroline Kinder, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Jan. 12, 1996

Affirmative Action Has Helped White Women More Than Anyone - Their successes make the case not for abandoning affirmative action but for continuing it. By Sally Kohn, TIME June 17, 2013