October 10, 2012

Supreme Court affirmative action oral arguments open thread

I'm sometimes asked:

Q. How do you come up with so many analyses of the latest issues by the time I get up in the morning?

A. By sleeping through most of the Eastern/Midwestern day. 

I hope to sleep dreamlessly through Wednesday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court over the U. of Texas's affirmative action plan, so if you are paying attention, please feel free to submit a comment to this post. 

I am particularly interested if, in regard to Texas, where Hispanic youths outnumber black youths vastly, 100% of the legal and pundit discussion will continue to be about blacks. Or by now in 2012, have we advanced to such a level of sophistication that only 95% of the debate about Texas's indirect quota system will be about blacks?


Anonymous said...

Is not that the truth ,Texas still considering blacks when they are only12 percent of population while hispanic youth under 18 are 48 percent.

Yan Shen said...

A point regarding Abigail Fisher.


According to my link above, Ms. Fisher scored an 1180/1600 on the SAT. (UT only considered the reading and math sections for her incoming class) and was ranked in roughly the top 12 percent of her high school class. She had the misfortune of barely missing out on being in the top 10 percent.

I don't remember the exact numbers, but I remember reading before that the average SAT score at UT Austin was in the low 1200s, around the 1220-1230ish range out of 1600.

My guess is that the vast majority of blacks and Hispanics outside of the top 10% but with an SAT score in that range were accepted by UT. I wouldn't be surprised if this percentage was 95%+.

But probably amongst white matriculants, Ms. Fishers SAT scores would've been below average.

The entire point here is that blacks and Hispanics are being held to much lower admissions standards and that really we should hold everyone to a same higher set of standards. Were there no affirmative action in place at UT, one possible and perhaps likely(i.e. greater than 50% chance) result would've been that Mr. Fisher would've been rejected from along with significant numbers of black and Hispanic applicants.

Yan Shen said...

So I guess my point here is that it's possible to show that you were discriminated against, in the sense that members of a different ethnic group with similar credentials were accepted at a much higher rate, but still not be admitted even without an affirmative action policy in place.

White Americans with modest SAT scores aren't going to get into Harvard if we eliminate affirmative action preferences, because the most obvious result of doing so would be the elimination of vast numbers of black and Hispanic applicants instead.

Anonymous said...

Affirmative action for Hispanics is so wrong that the subject turns me into a sputtering heap of inarticulate anger. Where are the unions? - pandering to their coming constituency?

eah said...

In the Wikipedia page (gulp) on this case, it says:

The University of Texas at Austin accepts students in the top 10% of each Texas high school's graduating class, regardless of their race, under its Top Ten Percent plan.

A WSJ article says basically the same thing:

At UT Austin, three-fourths of freshmen gain admission on academic grounds if they rank among the top 10% of their high school’s graduating class.

'So I guess my point here' is that for Blacks and Hispanics who attended majority NAM schools, which I would guess is true for a not insignificant number of black and Hispanic UT applicants, being in the top 10% of such a graduating class very probably represents a significantly lower absolute level of achievement than being in the top 10% of a school with a large majority of Whites and/or Asians.

So one could see the '10% rule' itself, i.e. as it seems to exist and is, I assume, applied today, as already a kind of affirmative action. If one was so inclined.

Anonymous said...

Yan shen is correct. If you want to see true meritocracy in action go to ucla. Asians win if admissions are based on test scores and grades.

As has been pointed out numerous times, asians have genetically higher iqs

Now for the first time, angela duckworth and the marshmallow test are proving that asians have genetically more grit than whites

Anonymous said...

Were there no affirmative action in place at UT, one possible and perhaps likely(i.e. greater than 50% chance) result would've been that Mr. Fisher would've been rejected from along with significant numbers of black and Hispanic applicants.

Exactly... which is why I was a worried(and am still a little worried) that the other girl who did much better on her SATs dropped from the case before it went to SCOTUS.

UT also says 168 "minorities" with higher "merit scores"(or whatever... it's something they calculate it themselves) were rejected for the summer admissions program... and I have to wonder how many of those were asian.

BTW, I do not have a good feeling about this case. I'm getting a Christian Legal Society v. Martinez vibe from it...

Anonymous said...

I went to UT-Austin in a hard science program (computer science).

I found Hispanics to be well represented (~20%). Most of them looked mestizo, although there were indigenous ones too. They even had some who were mad geniuses. (My standardized scores in ACT and SAT are in the 99.5+ percentile, so I'm not exaggerating.)

I was an out of state admit to UT-Austin from a pretty white state, so seeing all the hispanics who were pretty American was interesting to me. I had never thought of how regions of Texas have native Mexican American populations for generations.

Hacienda said...

"The True Man sleeps well, without dreams."

-Chuang Tze

socks said...

I looked at the wiki entries for UT Austin: UTAustin 50% non-hispanic whites; Texas 45% non-hispanic whites. UTTexas blacks 4.6% vs 12.6 in Texas.

I think I'd rather see a test case from somewhere like MIT which is 34% caucasian american, but 10% african american: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_Institute_of_Technology#People

Anonymous said...

It is becoming increasingly accepted that affirmative action is keeping The Black Man down more effectively that Jim Crow ever could. For example, there are plenty of law schools in America where a 3.2 GPA and a 162 LSAT score would put a black candidate in the top half of the entering class, all races included. They'd go on to become moderately successfull lawyers, whose kids would have the advantages of an upper middle class upbringing; maybe do even better than their parents did in school.

But no. They go to Yale, because they can. And they flunk out in large numbers, because they can't compete with the 3.9 / 178's. Race hustlere can't seem to figure this out. Or can they?

JerseyGuy said...

OT but interesting article by Joel Kotkin:


poolside said...

Something that most people will not know about Ms. Fisher's case ... her school, Austin High School, is one of two top performing campuses in its suburban district, with lots of very smart Asians and Indians, all of whom stock up on the AP classes for extra points.

Had Ms. Fisher lived five minutes away in just about any direction, she would have attended a different school (in the same school district) and would have easily been in the Top 10 percent of her class, with automatic acceptance to UT or A&M.

This is the penalty that many whites in Texas face: Go to a very good school, make all A's, participate in extra-curricular activities, give back to the community via volunteer activities ... and find yourself outside the Top 10 percent of your class and denied admission to the state's flagship universities.

Been There, Done That said...

As someone who was present at the oral arguments for the UMichigan cases, I'd be more interested to see if the justices move beyond elite whites, Jews and Asians. The last arguments and O'Connor's truly laughable opinion weren't really that concerned about the fate of blacks - or Hispanics for that matter, though as Steve points out, Hispanics weren't and aren't much part of the discussion.

What stunned me at the time - being a lowly scribe with no real legal training other than covering the Supreme Court for a few years - was the overwhelming focus on what AA meant to the WHITES and ASIANS going to the Ivies, Stanford and a very small handful of other schools. The arguments and O'Connor's opinion were mainly concerned with providing the right environment for the country's future leaders, who, of course, will come from the schools that the justices went to.

That was the compelling interest of the government.

It was all about giving the white and Asian students at these schools a brief introduction to blacks and Hispanics. These future leaders certainly weren't going to hang around NAMs in the neighborhoods where they grow up, the prep schools that they attend, the offices that they will soon occupy, nor in their future upscale neighborhoods. College was the small window of opportunity for the court to get these kids around NAMs in any meaningful way; kind of like going to a petting zoo instead of a regular zoo.

The justices main concern was not blacks or Hispanics, but white, Jewish and Asian kids just like the justices themselves.

If AA screws over some working class white kid, well, he should have worked harder. (Again, back to Steve's thesis that elites love assuming that IQ is something wholly achieved through the diligence of the individual and not mostly something you were lucky enough to be born with.)

I was stunned by the open elitism of the arguments and the opinions. It was eye-opening to me just how little those at the top care about anyone else - working-class whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc.

Beefy Levinson said...

OT, but throw one back for Mongo today.

"Mongo only pawn in game of life." - RIP Alex Karras.

sunbeam said...

That seems true. The real problem is that the jobs that hold the reins of power are bottlenecked through certain schools.

It just seems that 99% of everything that gets decided in this country is done by a graduate of one of maybe 20 colleges. Some of them are pretty small too.

As someone else in this thread said, even without any black people being admitted to these institutions your odds of getting in would barely budge. I imagine a really gifted and achieving student isn't affected by race quotas at all.

And to be blunt about something, how many black people got to an elite school, then get their very own hedge fund to rip people off with?

Anonymous said...

Here's a liveblog...


I'm really glad Kennedy said this:

Now Justice Anthony Kennedy--the real star of the show--gets exercised. What you're saying, Justice Kennedy tells Mr. Garre, is that race counts most of all. You want both underprivileged and privileged members of a certain race. This is affirmative action for the privileged.

And there's good stuff at SCOTUSBlog...


not a hacker said...

To set the scene and flesh out what Steve's talking about, here's David Bernstein from VC on the litigation:

Fisher disrupts the debate over the constitutionality of affirmative action because it represents the first affirmative action case to reach the Supreme Court in which (a) there is no plausible case that racial and ethnic preferences are necessary to achieve “diversity”; and (b) those most affected by the affirmative action preferences at issue are not blacks and whites, but Hispanics and Asians. Therefore, neither the diversity rationale nor the social justice rationale has the force in Fisher they have had in previous cases.

Anonymous said...

Why not just get rid of all this "Affirmative Action" nonsense altogether? Why give blacks special treatment and privileges? Why not just hire the best employees who make the cut and enlist the brightest students into college (whoever they may be)?

Anonymous said...

Here in Texas, we have seen the phenomenon of switching high schools, usually at the start of the senior year.

That means if Ms. Fisher had switched, she would have ended up in the top 10%. But the legislature has been on top of this, and UT is screaming about too many incompetent freshman. So, there's that as well.

For the record, I have one son who's a graduate, and one that is currently attending graduate school there. So I'm familiar with the process. Both by the way considered UT-Austin, as their safety schools. The one who went there was first wait listed by Harvard, the other attended the University of Chicago.

ray said...

there's nothing to wake up for

if you think the Supremes are gonna "solve" the fifty year old AA debacle then, truly, you are A Sleeper

amerika could have absorbed Protected Status for blacks n injuns in 1965, but once across-the-board preference in everything was summarily awarded to females, it was all over but the spending n the suffering

addressing this subject now in the hallowed halls of horseshit at goddess columbia's distrito is like convening to "save" the titanic victims

what a joke, do any of you actually BELIEVE in this jive any more? i mean, any of you whose paychecks are tied to this nonsense?

snapperhead soup said...

If the constitution matters, then AA must go. But does it matter?

Maybe AA will continue as ObamaFair.

Yan Shen said...

"Something that most people will not know about Ms. Fisher's case ... her school, Austin High School, is one of two top performing campuses in its suburban district, with lots of very smart Asians and Indians, all of whom stock up on the AP classes for extra points."

I grew up in the same city as did Ms. Abigail, Sugar Land, Texas. In fact, her high school, Stephen F Austin was in my school district. I attended Elkins High School. I'm not sure about the racial composition of Stephen F Austin, but I do know that the top school(the other one you were referring to perhaps?) Clements has a decent Asian American population.

Elkins had virtually no Asian Americans because most of them gravitated towards Clements!

Yan Shen said...

One of the pitfalls of the Hispanic category is that it's obviously an ethnic categorization rather than a racial one.

I competed in math and science competitions during high school through TMSCA and UIL. There were a number of elite Hispanic performers from the Valley area in Texas. One of my Korean American friends who attended high school in that area and often interacted with those people told me that they tended to be Hispanic whites, some of them fairly European looking.

C. Van Carter said...

It's necessary for elite institutions to discriminate against non-elite whites in order to expose elites to diversity, if elites are not exposed to diversity it would undermine their ability to attack non-elite whites for being racist.

pat said...

I think the real reason the Court is likely to knockdown Affirmative Action is the zeitgeist.

I watched Beverly Hills Cop on Netflix last night. I had seen it when it was originally released in 1984. This was the first big Eddie Murphy movie hit. I thought it was pretty funny at the time.

But it's hard to laugh about a cop from Detroit these days. Detroit looked a little shabby in 1984 but today it looks like Dresden after the fire bombings. There is an emerging albeit reluctant realization by decent white people that the reason for the destruction of that city has been it's black population not anykind of racist conspiracy.

I felt like yelling at the screen when Murphy was cruising Rodeo Drive - Stop! Get rid of that black guy before he and his kind similarly infect and destroy LA.

I didn't think that in 1984. Back then I thought it was harmless. I could believe that an black urban cop might be more "street wise". But in the meantime we've had OJ Simpson and weekly YouTube videos of black hoodlums assaulting whites like savages.

Real Detroit cops - those few who are left - warn everyone to stay out of Mo-town. Keep Out! is the current wisdom of the modern streetwise Detroit policeman.

In 1984 you could cut the black populace some slack. In 1984 the Supreme Court could entertain the notion that having more blacks in your schools might be an educational benefit for the whites.

I think the public's attitudes have shifted and they are dragging the Court along with them. Either this time or the next, AA is toast.


Cail Corishev said...

"Why give blacks special treatment and privileges? Why not just hire the best employees who make the cut and enlist the brightest students into college (whoever they may be)?"

Search for John Derbyshire's piece called The Great Syllogism, where he lays it out in easy-to-understand steps. In short, if you do that, you'll end up with almost no blacks in the more cognitively demanding fields, and fewer than we have now in the somewhat demanding clerical fields. Demanding fields like law where affirmative action reigns would look a lot more like STEM fields, and clerical fields would be much more white. Blacks would be highly represented instead in labor and service fields -- the ones Hispanic immigrants now dominate. This would make blacks very unhappy, and elite whites don't want unhappy blacks cutting their hedges and pushing their strollers. So AA is used to bump a healthy number of blacks up into the middle and upper echelon fields.

IQ 110-130 whites aren't going to be very interested in filling those empty labor and service jobs, so we import Hispanics to do those. As Derb puts it, we'd rather have those jobs done by grateful brown people than by angry black people.

So AA and mass immigration are indispensable to each other. Take away AA, and you've got a bunch of unemployed blacks (even more than currently), who would demand higher wages for menial jobs than Mexicans do. It's in the best interest of government, large corporations, and elites who hire menials to prevent that.

Hunsdon said...

Yan Shen is a Texan? As my East Texas granny might have said, "I feel the vapors comin' on."

poolside said...

Yan Shen said:

"I'm not sure about the racial composition of Stephen F Austin, but I do know that the top school(the other one you were referring to perhaps?) Clements has a decent Asian American population."

I believe both SFA and Clements are still majority Asian- and Indian-American, with most of the remaining students being upper-middle-class whites.

Although that is changing slowly. My guess is in 10 years, Clements and Austin will look like the rest of the district.

In the meantime, there is a huge difference between Top 10 percent at Clements/Austin and Top 10 percent at most of the other schools in the district.