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Introduction: The Equal Protection Clause Forbids Racial Preferences in State University Admissions (03:36)


Moderator John Donvan introduces Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz and Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen discusses the debate backdrop and the National Constitution Center. Rosenkranz discusses framing public policy debates in a constitutional framework.

Debate "Housekeeping" (06:30)

Donvan frames the debate about racial preferences in university admissions, explains the debate format, and introduces the panelists. Audience members record their preliminary votes.

For the Motion: Stuart Taylor (07:43)

Non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and author, Taylor states that the use of large racial preferences by selective universities violates several Supreme Court equal protection rules. He cites racial preference harms.

Against the Motion: Erwin Chemerinsky (07:16)

Founding Dean and distinguished professor of law at the University of California Irvine School of Law, Chemerinsky states affirmative action in universities is constitutional, has enhanced education, and is consistent with the Equal Protection Clause. Affirmative action is the only way to diversity in universities; the "mismatch" theory is incorrect.

For the Motion: Roger Clegg (07:40)

President General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, Clegg reads the Equal Protection Claus. The Supreme Court's basic approach has been that all Americans are protected from racial discrimination. He cites costs of racial discrimination.

Against the Motion: Deborah Archer (07:28)

Professor of law and Director of the Racial Justice Project, Archer states that the purpose of the 14th Amendment is to counter the oppression of racial minorities. She counters claims that affirmative action harms minority students.

Constitutional Text (04:44)

Donvan summarizes the panelists' positions on the Equal Protection Clause and racial preferences in university admissions. Clegg believes the clause to be "colorblind." Chemerinsky and Archer state that race influences the way one views the world.

Background Diversity (02:57)

Taylor states that not all recipients of racial descendants have ancestors who were slaves. Clegg states that using skin color as a proxy for a person's background is incorrect. Archer discusses the need to "look at the whole person" and recognize that race impacts perspective. Chemerinsky reiterates that diversity matters.

How does Diversity Work in a Constitutional Argument? (01:38)

Stuart states the court set principles under which many racial preference programs would be struck down.

Harm to Asian Students? (05:14)

Archer differentiates affirmative action from negative action. Clegg and Chemerinsky disagree on the meaning of "racial preference." Chemerinsky states that colleges look at many factors for college admission; preference should not be equated with discrimination.

Admissions Denial Based on Race? (05:10)

Taylor states many Asians are rejected because of race; he cites achievement differences in colleges. Chemerinsky and Archer disagree that large racial preferences are undisputed. Clegg states that an under representation of one group means an over representation of another group. Taylor defends the mismatch argument.

QA: Do Bad Diversities Affect Race Perceptions? (04:24)

Chemerinsky discusses the relationship between the Constitution and policy and states that interracial association breaks down stereotypes. Clegg agrees but states that random conversations are the crux of the diversity argument and that it is a weak premise.

QA: College Admissions Diversity (04:38)

Archer highlights benefits of affirmative action. Taylor says diversity would survive without racial preferences; Chemerinsky disagrees. Archer states Asian student admissions in California dropped and white students benefited.

QA: Equal Justice, Unequal Opportunity (02:26)

Taylor supports fighting racial discrimination and affording opportunity to disadvantaged groups; skin color is not a proxy. Only 14% of African Americans in select college come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

QA: Evidence of Race-Neutral Alternatives (07:26)

Taylor states the majority of universities neglected responsibilities to people from a disadvantage socioeconomic background. Chemerinsky disagrees and cites ways that universities have tried race neutral ways to achieve diversity. Clegg refutes Chemerinsky's comments about the University of Texas and the Top 10% Plan. Archer counters that Top 10% Plans work.

QA: Struggles Open New Gates? (01:22)

Taylor states that racial preference gaps are so large that many minority students are unable to academically compete.

QA: Offsetting Racial Bias (02:59)

Taylor states that African Americans do worse in college than their SAT scores predict. Chemerinsky agrees that there is cultural and racial bias in standardized tests. Archer cites African American graduation statistics.

'Equal' in Equal Protection (02:10)

Clegg states equal means not treating someone differently because of skin color or ancestry. Archer states that equal does not mean colorblind. Taylor agrees with Clegg and discusses a racial spoil system. Chemerinsky state equal protection's purpose is to prohibit minority subordination.

Closing Arguments For: Stuart Taylor (02:21)

Amani Marshall felt unprepared for attending Amherst and did not seek help for fear of undermining the status of her race; she may have been a victim of racial preference.

Closing Arguments Against: Erwin Chemerinsky (02:06)

Diversity matters in preparing students for functioning within society. Affirmative action is the only way to achieve diversity.

Closing Arguments For: Roger Clegg (02:17)

Social science evidence is disputable but states that look to skin color or national origin to determine college admissions does not align with the vision of those who wrote the 14th amendment.

Closing Arguments Against: Deborah Archer (02:14)

Diversity is a compelling state interest. The 14th Amendment is about equal citizenship, not colorblindness.

Time to Vote (05:09)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks panelists and supporters, and introduces the next Intelligence Squared Debate.

Audience Voting Results (01:15)

Pre-debate For: 27% - Against: 30% - Undecided: 43% Post-debate For: 32% - Against: 62% - Undecided: 6%

Credits: The Equal Protection Clause Forbids Racial Preferences in State University Admissions: A Debate (00:50)

Credits: The Equal Protection Clause Forbids Racial Preferences in State University Admissions: A Debate

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The Equal Protection Clause Forbids Racial Preferences in State University Admissions: A Debate

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The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Yet many state universities give preferences to members of certain races and groups when deciding whom to admit. In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court approved such preferences but only in specific circumstances and under narrow guidelines, and the issue has come before the Court several times since. Defenders of racial preferences argue that they help level the playing field for people from historically disadvantaged groups, remedy prior discrimination, and enhance diversity within the classroom, thus redeeming the true promise of equal protection. But opponents of such preferences argue that they are in themselves discriminatory, that they stigmatize recipients as being less qualified for admission, and that they thus violate the Constitution. Does the equal protection clause forbid racial preferences in state university admissions?

Length: 102 minutes

Item#: BVL116093

ISBN: 978-1-63521-209-9

Copyright date: ©2015

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