Should Colleges Admit Students Based on Race? Why Justice Sonia Sotomayor Still Thinks So

Takepart.com

Sun, 22 Jun 2014 13:51:51 PDT

Affirmative action in college admissions may be on its last legs, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor defended the race-based program this morning on ABC’s This Week.

“Look, we have legacy admissions—if your parents or your grandparents have been to that school, they’re going to give you an advantage in getting into the school,” the justice pointed out to host George Stephanopoulos.

In the past Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, has credited race-based programs in the 1970s for her rise from a Bronx public housing project to Princeton University and Yale Law School. When the Court upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in April, she delivered an impassioned dissent that was labeled too emotional by conservative media outlets.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination,” she wrote.

Enrollment of black and Hispanic students in selective institutions has significantly dropped in states, including California and Florida, where affirmative action has been banned. Opponents of the program instead propose leveling the playing field based on income or location, an alternative that Sotomayor believes is statistically ineffective. She said such initiatives haven’t proved as successful in ensuring a diverse student body, and that institutions should be able to consider race and not just grades.

“What does ‘qualifications’ mean in an academic setting? A place like Princeton…could fill their entire beginning freshman class with students who have scored perfectly on undergraduate metrics,” she told Stephanopoulos. “They don’t do it because it would not make for a diverse class on the metrics that they think are important for success in life.”

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Original article from TakePart