Racial Preferences Backfire Legally

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Racial preferences embraced by supposedly elite law schools may actually be forcing blacks out of the legal profession. “There are fewer African-American students than anyone would prefer with the entering credentials necessary for admission on a color-blind basis to the most elite law schools,” Anthony Caso of the Chapman University School of Law wrote in an amicus brief he compiled for three members of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission. “But there are many more who would do well at mid-tier schools—if they were only attending those schools.”

Caso assembled an amicus brief in support of Abigail Noel Fisher in the case of Fisher v. the University of Texas that the U. S. Supreme Court will examine in October.  Fisher alleges that she was squeezed out of a slot at UT Austin to make way for candidates admitted under race-based preferences.

In his brief, Caso draws heavily upon the research of contrarian UCLA law professor Richard Sander, who has co-filed his own amicus brief on Fisher’s behalf.  “First, African-American students attending law schools failed or dropped out at much higher rates than white students (19.3% vs. 8.2%),” Caso notes in the brief. “Overwhelmingly, this phenomenon was associated with poor performance and not financial hardship, which mattered only slightly.”

Life doesn’t get much easier for those who stick around. “Second, among African-Americans who graduated and took the bar, the proportion who passed on their first attempt was not just lower than that for whites, it was lower even when one controls for academic index (LSAT and college GPA),”  Caso contends. “For example, 71% of African-Americans with a 400-460 index failed the bar on their first effort, while only 52% of whites did.”

“Similarly, 26% of African-Americans with an index between 640 and 700 failed their first time, while only 13% of whites did.”

Unfortunately, “only 45% of African-Americans who entered law school passed the bar on their first attempt as opposed to over 78% of whites,” Caso avers. “Even after multiple attempts, only 57% of African-Americans succeeded.”

Conversely, “When African-American and white law students with similar credentials competed against each other at the same school, they earned about the same grades,” Caso points out. “And when African-Americans and white students with the same grades from the same tier school took the bar examination, they passed at the same rate.”

“Yet African-American students as a group had dramatically lower bar passage rates than white students with similar credentials.” Part of the problem is that elite schools simply don’t prepare students to take the bar.

“The black and Hispanic students were more likely to be attending an elite school that spends little time on subjects covered on the bar exam and delves instead into more abstract and esoteric legal issues,” writes Caso.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.