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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Mechanics of Affirmative Action

Many posts have discussed affirmative action, the subject of oral argument in the Supreme Court yesterday.

 Megan McArdle at WP:

As legal scholar David Bernstein points out in “Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America,” “Experience around the world shows that affirmative action categories almost always expand rather than contract, as more and more groups lobby to get affirmative action preferences and then lobby to protect those preferences.” A system that drew its political support from our desire to eradicate Jim Crow ended up covering a number of protected classes, though along somewhat arbitrary lines that were driven as much by political maneuvering as by any rational criteria. This created various ad hoc absurdities — a Pakistani is “Asian,” but an Afghan born a few miles across the border might be coded “White”; the daughter of a Spanish doctor is Hispanic, eligible for various private and government-sponsored affirmative action programs, while the child of an Italian janitor, who might be visually indistinguishable from the doctor’s child, is presumably in no need of help.