Affirmative action is a policy that is aimed at providing positive measures to remedy effects of past discrimination against members of certain groups (Clayton & Crosby 1992, p.2). One of the areas that suffer underrepresentation of the diverse, underrepresented individuals and minority group in colleges is the laws schools and subsequently in the legal profession. The questioned posed is “Is affirmative action the best solution to alleviating this crisis or is it the major cause together with other practices that have contributed to these underrepresentation?
First of all is the admission procedure. Admission selection considers those with a bachelor’s degree for an accredited university or college. Few underrepresented minority students are able to attend college and obtain the relevant qualifications. Moreover, there are disparities in number of applicants and the number who get enrolled. For example in 2000, 74500 individuals submitted their application to ABA- approved school and an estimate of 67% of the total were admitted (ABA/ LSAC Pre-Conference Report, 2005, p, 4). This illustrates a flaw in the acceptance procedure that focus on higher merit in which its well document trend that underrepresented minorities score less on the Law Schools Admission Test (LSAT).
Secondly the individual state bar exams are a severe impediment. “While the LSAT remains a reliable predictor of success in law school and the Law School Admission Council (makers of the LSAT), warn against over-reliance on numerical qualifiers alone” (ABA/ LSAC Pre-Conference Report, 2005, p, 5). Raised cut off points detriment the minorities who are disproportionately at the bottom in addition the bars are also misapplied. The percentage of residents in a state should have a proportionate percentage at the law school. The lack of a national bar does also contribute to this issue.
The above two examples illustrate why affirmative action is needed in leveling admissions. Higher merit and higher cut off points are serving to lock out minority groups from accessing law education. In coming up with a criteria for selection, the selection board should put into consideration performance of minority groups which is at the lower end of the spectrum.
Terry Eastland suggests that affirmative action promotes discrimination. He argues that there is nothing like positive or negative discrimination. In Higher education for example, when the institution sets a lower grade for color students, the act in itself creates discrimination. These groups of students who will be enrolled under affirmative action are well aware that they are in that position due to their race. It is a negative experience that is not easy to erase. Sometimes attitudes from the majority students will affect the students from the minority. The majority students may not look at the minority as equals.
Affirmative action leads to stigma. Eastland says that very few people are aware of the abilities and potential of the marginalized groups. In this case they are likely to be less respected and less valued. This can end up psychologically affecting these groups and it can be worsened if they fail to perform. Terry end believes that an environment should an equal working basis. If students have to be enrolled for higher education, it should be based on merit and not race. This will create an equal working environment of mutual relationship.
Furthermore, Eastland equates ‘Affirmative action’ to ‘lower standards’. The rationale of having a policy that sets asides positions after a normal criterion creates a barrier between quality and less quality. By having this policy, institutions are accepting that results posted from minority groups are of lesser quality and lesser magnitude to that from the majority. Policy makers argue that the minority are affected by certain factors that make them not to equal results of the majority. It then beats logic that it would be easier resolving factors that make minority perform lesser than providing a criterion that guarantee certain results.
Terry Eastland comments and views in regard to affirmative action tend to disapprove use of affirmative action against underrepresentation based on color. His views do not factor underrepresentation due to gender. However the logic behind his reasons and those of other scholars can equally be equated to affirmative action on gender and sex segregation
Gender affirmative actions have shown to improve the status of women in the society. In fact advocates for gender affirmative actions have sprung from various women activists and organizations. Women have gained access to representations in legislative organs, various courses in colleges that stereotypically were set for men. However it is urged that continuous paying attention to a group of people will result in then differences becoming more salient than the commonalities among people (Clayton & Crosby 1992, p.11). This statement thus emphasizes Terry Eastland’s arguments against affirmative action.
To conclude, the benefits of affirmative action are actually visible. Moving forward however, the fundamental principles of affirmative action seem to have been overtaken with time. Putting into consideration Terry Eastland arguments in regard to affirmative action, the negatives of affirmative action outweigh the positives. Affirmative action has led to lower productivity, increased segregation and stigmatization. The call to end affirmative actions thus is justified.
Clayton, Susan D, and Faye J. Crosby. Justice, Gender, and Affirmative Action. Ann Arbor, Mich: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1992. Print.
Law Schools Admission Council. Pre Conference Report (2005) Collaborating to Expand the Pipeline. Retrieved from http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/op/pipelineconf/PipelinePostReport.authcheckdam.pdf