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Two Views of the River: A Critique of the Liberal Defense of Affirmative Action

By III Charles R. Lawrence


In response to the attack on affirmative action at educational institutions, the argument that the benefits of diversity necessitate keeping affirmative action has emerged as the dominant defense of race-conscious admissions policies. Describing this argument as the “liberal defense of affirmative action,” Professor Lawrence critiques the liberal defense because it fails to challenge the manner in which traditional standards of merit perpetuate race and class privilege, and pushes aside more radically, substantive defenses of affirmative action which articulate the need to remedy past and ongoing discrimination. While recognizing the difficulties and ambivalence inherent in advancing a new vision for defending affirmative action, Professor Lawrence points to post-Proposition 209 litigation by students of color against the Regents of the University of California to articulate a theory of transformative politics upon which to base future strategies for maintaining affirmative action and dismantling racial injustice

Topics: affirmative action programs in education, discrimination in higher education, race discrimination, Education Law
Publisher: Scholarship @ GEORGETOWN LAW
Year: 2001
OAI identifier: oai:scholarship.law.georgetown.edu:facpub-1339
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