Civil Rights Practice Group Podcast Andrew Grossman September 19, 2014
On July 25, 2014, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, on remand from the Supreme Court of the United States. In a 2-1 decision, the panel upheld the University of Texas' affirmative action policies, "persuaded by UT-Austin ... of its necessary use of race in a holistic process and the want of workable alternatives that would not require even greater use of race." Was this decision consistent with the Supreme Court's 7-1 decision in June 2013? What will happen going forward? Our expert answered these and other questions for a live call-in audience.
Civil Rights Practice Group Podcast
- Andrew Grossman, Associate, Baker & Hostetler LLP and Adjunct Scholar, The Cato Institute
Race-based affirmative action had been declining as a factor in university admissions even before the recent spate of related cases arrived at the Supreme Court. Since the mid-1990s, the percentage of four-year public colleges that consider racial or ethnic status in admissions has fallen from 60 percent to 35 percent. Only 45 percent of private colleges still explicitly consider race, with elite schools more likely to do so, although they too have retreated. Law school professor and civil rights activist Sheryll Cashin believes that this isn’t entirely bad news, because, as she argues, affirmative action as currently practiced does little to help disadvantaged people. The truly disadvantaged are not getting the quality schooling they need in part because backlash and wedge politics undermine any possibility for common-sense public policies. Using place instead of race in diversity programming, she writes, will better amend the structural disadvantages endured by many children of color, while enhancing the possibility that we might one day move past the racial resentment that affirmative action engenders. In Place, Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America, Professor Cashin reimagines affirmative action and champions place-based policies, arguing that college applicants who have thrived despite exposure to neighborhood or school poverty are deserving of special consideration.
Civil Rights in the United States
Emotions sometimes run high in the public debates over race and gender issues. Some claim that public passions can obscure facts and result in ill-considered policy. Many observers have bemoaned the public rhetoric surrounding the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri as more inflammatory than constructive. Another example can be found in criticism over President Obama’s use of a misleading, or at least contestable, figure in his 2014 State of the Union address: “Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.” But equal pay for equal work has been the law since 1963, and some researchers have questioned whether the pay gap exists in reality to the same extent it does rhetorically. Are similarly emotional arguments being used in the debates over sexual assault in the military, hate crimes, and harassment and bullying in public schools? This panel will explore the concerns over this problem and its policy consequences.
This panel on "Passion and Prudence in the Political Process: The Debate Over Federal Civil Rights Policy" was part of a day-long conference on Civil Rights in the United States held on September 9, 2014, and co-sponsored by the Federalist Society's Civil Rights Practice Group, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.
- Ms. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
- Ms. Lara S. Kaufmann, Senior Counsel & Director of Education Policy for At-Risk Students, National Women's Law Center
- Hon. Gail Heriot, Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law and Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
- Moderator: Mr. Robert Barnes, Supreme Court Correspondent, The Washington Post
The Mayflower Hotel Civil Rights in the United States
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which disabled Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, has led some advocates (including the White House) to argue that voting rights are in peril. But other experts say these fears are wildly overblown and that Shelby County confirms that circumstances have changed dramatically for the better. They argue that Section 5’s federal “preclearance” regime can no longer be justified given that the systematic disenfranchisement of the Jim Crow era has disappeared—racial disparities in voter registration and turnout are gone, especially in previously covered jurisdictions—and that we should focus on actual instances of racial discrimination (as well as election administration). After all, Sections 2 and 3 are still very much in place, although Section 2 has been interpreted to require racial gerrymandering in a way that benefits both major parties but harms American democracy. This panel will discuss the state of voting rights today, including the Justice Department’s enforcement actions, proposed legislation in Congress, voter-ID laws, felon voting, and related issues in the states.
This panel on "The Future of Voting Rights" was part of a day-long conference on Civil Rights in the United States held on September 9, 2014, and co-sponsored by the Federalist Society's Civil Rights Practice Group, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.
- Mr. David H. Gans, Director, Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program, Constitutional Accountability Center
- Mr. Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute
- Mr. Hans A. von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow and Manager, Civil Justice Reform Initiative, The Heritage Foundation
- Moderator: Mr. Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst, the Washington Examiner
The Mayflower Hotel Civil Rights in the United States
The Obama administration is widely perceived to be an avid proponent of racial preferences. As Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2012, “The question is not when does [affirmative action] end, but when does it begin.” Several landmark pieces of legislation that President Barack Obama has signed into law—primarily on other topics, such as the Dodd Frank Wall Street Consumer Protection and Reform Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—have expanded racial preferences in federal hiring, contracting, and at regulated entities. The president has also issued multiple executive orders and related instructions that aggressively seek to expand the numbers of women and minorities in the federal workforce. The Obama administration’s response to Fisher v. University of Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2411 (2013), which directed courts to use strict scrutiny in analyzing whether admissions policies are narrowly tailored to achieve universities’ diversity goals, may be another such example. After Fisher, officials at the Departments of Education and Justice produced guidance documents that have been read to assure colleges and universities that they could continue using large racial preferences in student admissions. This panel will explore this proliferation of racial preferences and the likely effects of such policies. Among other things, panelists will discuss evidence that racial preferences in education do more harm than good to their intended beneficiaries, resulting in fewer under-represented minorities going on to high-status careers. The panel will also discuss efforts to protect women and minorities from ill-defined “harassment” as a means of maintaining diversity in the workplace and on campuses—and how these efforts may raise First Amendment concerns and create perverse incentives to discriminate against persons who are perceived as likely to view innocent or trivial workplace and campus interactions as harassment.
This panel on "Racial Preferences and Promoting Diversity: Are These Policies Taking Us in the Right Direction?" was part of a day-long conference on Civil Rights in the United States held on September 9, 2014, and co-sponsored by the Federalist Society's Civil Rights Practice Group, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.
- Mr. Hans Bader, Senior Counsel, Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Prof. Louis Michael Seidman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center
- Mr. Stuart S. Taylor, Jr., Nonresident Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
- Moderator: Dr. Roger Pilon, Vice President for Legal Affairs, B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies, and Director, Center for Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute
The Mayflower Hotel