Sunday, February 12, 2006

Race quotas and the ABA

The legal profession is not viewed in a particularly favorable light. Less than one in five people rate lawyers as having "high or very high honesty and ethics standards" (compared to 82% for nurses, 64% for teachers, and 54% for clergy) yet it is the most lucrative of the 22 occupational categories included in the US Census. Judicial activism and frivolous lawsuits are war cries for the social right and free-market right, respectively. I can't help but want to affirm this negative feeling when the ABA does things like this:

Meeting in Chicago today, the ABA's Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will vote on new "equal opportunity and diversity" standards. If they are approved, any law school that seeks to maintain or acquire ABA accreditation will be required to engage in racial preferences in hiring and admissions, regardless of any federal, state or local laws that prohibit of such policies...

The new Standard 211, styled "Equal Opportunity and Diversity," would govern admissions and faculty hiring policies. It says nothing about treating people from different groups equally, and lots about "diversity" -- a code word for affirmative action preferences. "Consistent with sound legal education policy and the Standards," part (a) says that a law school must provide "full opportunities for the study of law and entry into the profession by members of underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities," and it must also commit "to having a student body that is diverse with respect to gender, race and ethnicity."

Sorry to those who are members of a demographic group that tends to excel. Isonomy does not actually extend to you. Instead your legal status is based on the arbitrarily judged performance of your clan. The ABA, which holds a virtual monopoly on who is eligible to take the bar exam, wants college campuses to look 'more like America'. Ostensibly this is to promote diversity, but if every place looks like America, there is actually no meaningful diversity--Kansas becomes the same as California, the South no different than the Northwest. Diversity requires pockets of relative homogeneity, otherwise we're left with a bland grey goop that spans the entire country (or world!).

The basis of the ABA's proposal comes from Gutter v. Bollinger, where a white applicant was rejected even though she was more qualified (3.8 GPA and an LSAT of 161) than her protected peers who were accepted. Here's what the venerable 'swing' vote, Justice O'Connor, wrote in the US Supreme Court's decision:
Held: The Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body is not prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause, Title VI, or §1981. Pp. 9—32.
Overt racism is okay if it furthers a "compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body". What benefits? Obviously they are not academic, as the standards must be lowered to let in less capable applicants. Not surprisingly, a study out of UCLA shows that 42% of black matriculants to law school do not pass the bar (compared to 14% of whites). Oh wait, O'Connor alluded to the benefits already:
The policy does not define diversity solely in terms of racial and ethnic status and does not restrict the types of diversity contributions eligible for “substantial weight,” but it does reaffirm the Law School’s commitment to diversity with special reference to the inclusion of African-American, Hispanic, and Native-American students, who otherwise might not be represented in the student body in meaningful numbers. By enrolling a “critical mass” of underrepresented minority students, the policy seeks to ensure their ability to contribute to the Law School’s character and to the legal profession.
Oh, the "character" of the school. I should have known. The academic setting needs to be more multicultural. To ensure that happens, meritocratic testing must be neutered. The culture of the majority must be detrimentally altered on account of the cultures of various minorities. Sound familiar? The same phenomenon is at work with the Danish cartoons and Islamic protests.

There is no quantifiable benefit from forced multiculturalism of this nature--the only defense multicult enthusiasts give is that multiculturalism is good for the sake of being multicultural. That is, diversity is good de jure. If cultural or ethnic variance occurs naturally based on skill levels all the merrier. But forcing balkanization and anti-merit for some silly heterogeneous ideal is absurd. Unfortunately, objecting to this asininity runs one the risk of being labelled a racist and ostracized. Being called a racist for pointing out how awful an explicitly racist policy is--who woulda thunk it?

If certain groups need preferential treatment, is that not a strong reason for restricting their entry into the US in the first place? People are different. By extension, so are populations of people. Of course, there are people of all ethnicities and places that would benefit the US by becoming a part of it (the purpose of immigration policy is to better the American citizen, right? Or is it to better the immigrant at the expense of the citizen?). That's why we need a merit immigration system that skims the cream of the crop from all corners of the globe (except for the Middle East) rather than letting people in based on chance or family ties.

Homo sapiens are among the most diverse species on the planet, next only to other domesticates (like dogs). Their tempermants, athletic abilities, intelligence, susceptibility to disease, ad infinitum vary widely. Humans are still evolving, and as Darwin pointed out 150 years ago, these evolutionary pressures dinstinctly shape different groups. This is human biodiversity. I thought it was this diversity that we were supposed to celebrate! But alas, we are actually not to celebrate diversity at all but instead to do everything we can to assure that everyone is exactly the same (in outcome). Such is the inane orthodox of the egalitarian belief system.

What is probably most tragic about race preferences is how it highlights group differences rather than attenuating them. Say, hypothetically, that we have a group of 50 whites and 50 blacks applying for admission to law school. A total of 10 will be accepted. The top ten scores break down like this:

White--178, white--176, white--176, black--174, white--171, white--171, black--170, white--169, white--168, white--166. Thus 8 whites and 2 blacks should get in. In this environment, the blacks and whites would perform about the same (this is why race relations in the military, which uses psychometric testing extensively, are so envied). There would be fewer blacks in this case, but the performance disparity between blacks and whites would be almost nonexistent.

However, the school has a quota policy mandating that the black/white proportion be equal. So, the last three whites (scoring 169, 168, and 166) are dropped in favor of the next three blacks who scored 161, 158, and 153. See what happens now?

The blacks, on average, are now obviously less capable than their white peers. The five whites will find that a couple of the blacks are roughly equal to them intellectually, but that the other three are clearly less able in the field of law. Thus, whites will be more inclined to believe their lying eyes--that blacks are not as smart as whites. The last three blacks, who are by no means dullards based on their scores (assuming this is the LSAT), are likely to struggle immensely and eventually fail out. They would have been much better served in a less rigorous environment where they could have been near the top of the class. This is also brutally unfair to the three whites who were rejected. And it does nothing for the truly disadvantaged blacks who scored in the 120s and 130s. Affirmative action is not only inefficient and unfair--it is also ineffective.

Hopefully Justice Alito, who took heat in the confirmation hearings for not being a proponent of race preferences, will 'swing' the Court back towards merit-based, rather than race-based, admissions.

(Human biodiversity)


Ares1718 said...

What's so sad about race quotas is how it justifies race choices.As a consumer I now have justification in hesitating to hire a black attorney because I think he might not be as qualified as a white. If I cannot be certain that all minority jds are of a certain caliber I'm more likely to hire an unprotected lawyer (a white male.) This is not what affirmative action is supposed to do and it is unfair to gifted minorities like the hypothetical blacks that scored in line with the whites in your example.

crush41 said...

Absolutely. Rather than alleviate ethnic tensions it inflames them by causing unprotected groups to feel resentment and for able members of protected classes to be discriminated against unnecessarily. Trying to mete out 'justice' by using race as a defining characteristic is absurdly anti-meritous.

If you're going to have open heart surgery, who do you want operating on you? An quota filler or the best John Hopkins has to offer? It is, in principle, the same for other professions like law. Give me the best, irrespective of race.

Anonymous said...

LSAT scores differ between races because they are culturally biased. The experimental section of the LSAT provides test makers with the tools they need to ensure white men always do better on the tests. When test makers get the results of the esperimental sections, they break it down by race. I.e. if black people get a particular question right ten percent more than white people, that would be considered unacceptable because the deviation between races is too great. The test makers even form hypothesis as to why one racial group may score better on a particular question than another. At any rate, the questions selected are never greatly biased towards a particular minority. white men however receive those benefits! and questions where the bias is only slight, they also give to white men. The cumulkative affect is a test that is biased towards white men, becuase questions they choose to incorporate into the test were chosen for that purpose.
think about it, if you chose to incorporate questions which black excell on, what are you testing? that can be applicable to this society????

crush41 said...

LSAT scores are powerful predictors of performance. Obviously it tests for the mental firepower, especially of the analytical variety, needed for a successful legal career. The LSAT probably serves as a decent proxy for g as well, in which there is a persistent one standard deviation gap between blacks and whites. I suppose you can argue that g is culturally biased in that it tests for, at base, the speed and effectiveness of mental processes, and that is perhaps more crucial to success in New York City than in Lesotho.

And what about Asians, who score slightly higher than whites on the LSAT?