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WJLER Spring 2013 Blogs

April 4th, 2013 No comments

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 The Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race would like to announce our Spring 2013 Blogs

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This semester the blogs will feature the following four topics:

      1)  Minorities in the Corporate World

2)  The Economics of Gun Control

3)  Racial Profiling & Traffic Stops

4)  Housing/Entitlement Programs

New blog entries will be added every Monday, up until the end of the summer so that we can keep everyone informed about these important topics.

Thank you once again for supporting Widener’s Journal of Law, Economics & Race!

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Financial Aid and Undocumented Immigrants

December 3rd, 2012 No comments

By: *Katelyn McKenzie

Blog Category: Immigration

Courts in New Jersey and Florida recently decided that colleges and universities can no longer deny financial aid to students based on the immigration status of their parents.  These rulings came after many universities, feeling pressure to reduce spending, instituted regulations denying need-based financial aid and lower in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants, even though the children are United States citizens.

A Federal District court judge in Miami found regulations denying financial aid to students who could not prove the legal immigration status of their parents unconstitutional because they “create a second-tier status of U.S. citizenship,” and deny benefits that are widely available to other Americans.

In New Jersey, a state appeals court found its law denying aid to children of illegal immigrants “decidedly un-American” because it denies American citizens rights and privileges based on the identity of their parents.  These policies often go unnoticed because many American students are reluctant to bring challenges because of the possible deportation consequences for their parents, but they affect thousands of college-bound American students every year.

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*Katelyn McKenzie is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn about Katelyn McKenzie, click the link to visit her page: Katelyn McKenzie

To learn more about this topic: See Julia Preston, Court Rulings Help Illegal Immigrants’ College-Bound Children. N.Y. Times, September 5, 2012, at A20, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/us/florida-and-new-jersey-courts-aid-illegal-immigrants-college-bound-children.html?_r=0.

2012-2013 Winter Writing Competition

December 3rd, 2012 No comments

2012-2013 Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race Winter Writing Competition

If you are interested in submitting your legal work to be considered for a staff position on WJLER please refer to the Winter Writing Competition packet link below.

Click Here to access the Winter Writing Competition Packet

Affirmative Action and College Admissions

November 19th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

by: Amy Hummler

When does a university’s use of race in determining admissions to its undergraduate program violate the Equal Protection Clause? This is an issue that the Supreme Court must once again decide. On October 10, 2012, the Supreme Court heard the case of Abigail Fisher, who claimed her constitutional rights were violated when she was unfairly denied admission to University of Texas at Austin’s (“UT”) undergraduate program because she is white. The Fifth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of UT’s admission process in January of 2011 affirming UT’s use of race elements in determining undergraduate admissions as constitutional. (631 F. 3d 213 (5th Cir. 2011)). Pursuant to Grutter v. Bolinger, UT’s admission program not only guarantees students who are in the top 10% of their high school graduating class admission to the school, but also considers the race, and other various attributes, of each applicant. The Supreme Court held in Grutter that a university “will not violate the equal protection clause if it narrowly tailors its use of race in admission decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” (539 U.S. 306, 343 (2003)). Thus, the Fifth Circuit interpreted this as UT is allowed to consider the attributes of individual applicants of all races.  631 F. 3d at 221.

When UT guaranteed admissions to its undergraduate programs to the top ten percent of students, this increased the number of African Americans and Hispanics enrolled in UT. However, UT claimed that this increase in minority admissions still did not offer the diversity UT desired in order to meet its compelling interests of “promoting cross-racial understanding, breaking down stereotypes, and preparing students for an increasingly diverse workplace.” As a result in 2004, UT began to consider race among many other factors in determining admissions into its undergraduate program. Within a few years, UT was one of the top public universities in the country for producing undergraduate degrees for minority groups. Abigail Fisher, an in-state applicant, sought enrollment at UT Austin in Fall of 2008 and was denied.

This October, UT’s lawyer explained to the Supreme Court (who reaffirmed college affirmative action by a 5-4 majority in Grutter) that the university uses “holistic’ review of each applicant’s characteristics in addition to an applicant’s race. It was reported that Supreme Court Justices were ‘skeptical’.” After all, UT’s use of its “color-blind admittance” for applicants who were in the top ten percent of their class did increase diverse enrollment, which works in Texas where there are high schools that are nearly all African-American and Hispanic. UT argued that its top ten percent program admitted students at disadvantaged schools that have lower standardized test scores into the university, leaving out the average minority kids at better suburban high schools. Thus the use of its affirmative action program will admit more minority students from middle class and professional families. This apparently did not sit well with the Justices, including Justice Alito, who stated “I thought that the whole purpose of affirmative action was to help students who come from underprivileged backgrounds.” The balance of the court on affirmative action has shifted with Justice Alito replacing Justice O’Connor.

But despite this majority shift, the real issue is whether public universities are using Grutter to overstep their use of affirmative action. UT’s top 10% program not only increased enrollment of minorities, but also helped underprivileged kids that attend schools that are less competitive in standardized testing to gain admission into a public university. This program is something I believe should be adopted by all public universities. However, I agree with Justice Alito that that the use of affirmative action should be used to help underprivileged children in poorer communities to gain admissions to higher education. These underprivileged children, often minorities, do not have access to the better educational programs that the more privileged communities have. Thus, the use of race to admit minority students from the more privileged communities seems to be counter-intuitive.

 

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Amy Hummler is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Amy Hummler, click here to visit her page: Amy Hummler

To learn more about this topic, click the link below:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443982904578047192287305354.html

Should Affirmative Action be Socioeconomically Based?

November 12th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

By: Patrick Gallo*

The landmark case of Grutter v. Bollinger solidified the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions.  In Grutter, the Supreme Court held that “… the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the [University of Michigan] Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”[1]  The Supreme Court limited such a ruling to a finite period of twenty-five years, suggesting that one day race would no longer be a metaphorical hurdle to opportunity.[2] Specifically, in Grutter, the University of Michigan Law School employed an individualized “holistic review” of law school applicants, awarding a “plus” to minority students in order to achieve a “critical mass” of minority students and promote “…’cross-racial understanding’ … to break down racial stereotypes, and ‘enable… [students] to better understand persons of different races….’”[3]

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Grutter is being revisited in Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin and consequently has placed affirmative action on the chopping block.  The premise underlying affirmative action is that “[y]ou do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race … and then say, ‘[y]ou are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”[4]

Deborah Archer, a law professor at New York Law School, argues that race-conscious admissions programs need to be continued because “[r]ace-conscious admissions programs…are designed to overcome the systemic racism and serve as a vital pipeline to educational and professional opportunities for minority students.”[5]

David Sacks and Peter Thiel contend, however, that “[t]he basic problem is that a racist past cannot be undone through more racism. Race-conscious programs betray Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind community, and the heightened racial sensitivity they cause is a source of acrimony and tension instead of healing.”[6]    Sacks and Thiel further maintain that race-conscious programs do not help the disadvantaged, but rather, “primarily benefit minority applicants from [the] middle- and upper-class” while “hurt[ing] poor whites and even many Asians….”[7]  Thus, Sacks and Thiel conclude that “[i]f preferences were truly meant to remedy disadvantage, they would be given on the basis of disadvantage, not on the basis of race.”[8]

Via Fisher, the Supreme Court can preserve its milestone decision in Grutter, or vitiate it altogether and with it, affirmative action.  Alternatively, Fisher also provides the Supreme Court with an opportunity to carve out a new kind of affirmative action that is socioeconomically based.  Such would be appropriate considering that today’s greatest metaphorical hurdle and impediment to success is arguably one’s socioeconomic status rather than one’s race.[9]

 

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Patrick Gallo is one of the Articles Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Patrick Gallo, click here to view his page: Patrick Gallo

[1] Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 343 (2003).

[2] See id. at 343.

[3] Id. at 330.

[4] David Leonhardt, Rethinking Affirmative Action, NY TIMES, Oct. 13, 2012 (quoting a 1965 speech of President Lyndon B. Johnson “that laid the groundwork for affirmative action”), available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/sunday-review/rethinking-affirmative-action.html?pagewanted=all.

[5] Deborah Archer, Why We Need Race-Conscious Admissions, THE NATIONAL JURIST, Oct. 2012, Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 13.

[6] David Sacks & Peter Theil, The Case Against Affirmative Action, STANFORD MAGAZINE, available at http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=43448.

[7] Id. (citing Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution).

[8] Id.

[9] See Rachel Potucek, Affirmative action: Pros and Cons, K-STATE PERSPECTIVE, Fall 2003 (quoting Professors Krishna Tummala and John Fliter), available at http://www.k-state.edu/media/webzine/0203/aapros&cons.html; see also Leonhardt, supra, Rethinking Affirmative Action; Spencer Lindsay, Status, Not Race, Should Be Basis of Affirmative Action, THE BADGER HERALD, Apr. 25, 2012, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-badger-herald/status-not-race-should-be_b_1455359.html.

For more information concerning the foregoing topic you can visit the following:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57529223/supreme-court-takes-up-affirmative-action/?pageNum=2&tag=page

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-06-17-diversity17_ST_N.htm

 

 

 

 

Affirmative Action Programs in Colleges and Universities

November 5th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

Written by: *Staci Pesin

As Law Students, we have all taken Constitutional law in law school, and if not you will shortly.  For those of you who have taken Constitutional law, we should all be familiar with these most recognized cases: Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, and Marbury v. Madison. However, there is a case that you might not be familiar with, the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which was an affirmative action case.  In 2003, the Supreme Court held in Grutter v. Bollinger  that the University of Michigan was allowed to use an affirmative action based admission policy in the interest of promoting diversity at their school.

Nine years later, the Supreme Court has decided to hear another affirmative action case.  This case took place in Texas. A Caucasian student alleged that the University of Texas denied her admission because of her race and that the school gives preferential treatment to African American and Latino applicants.  The University of Texas has a race-based admission plan where it admits the top ten percent of high school students. With many high schools in Texas heavily made up of minority students, racial diversity has increased at the university.  In addition, The University of Texas also has a class-based program for economically disadvantaged students, which has also increased racial diversity at the university.

Carolyn Warner, a student writer for The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, suggests that it is time to end race-based affirmative action but notes that racial diversity in schools is a compelling government goal.  She suggests we focus on fixing the class gap which would help bridge the racial gap.  Studies have shown that affirmative action programs based on race help the economically advantaged and the author suggests that with class-based affirmative action we will be helping the economically disadvantaged as well as minorities.  Her ultimate goal is certainly noble, however fixing the class gap is not going to happen overnight.

 

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Staci Pesin is currently the Senior Managing Editor on the Delaware Campus. To learn more about Staci Pesin, click here to view her personal page: Staci Pesin
Article written by Carolyn Warner, Student Writer for The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice See:  http://blogs.law.uiowa.edu/jgrj/?p=797  to read the full article.