September 10, 2008
Bar Association Bullies Law Schools into Racial Discrimination
By Walter Williams
Last week's column demonstrated the harm, suffered by black students, that results from law school race-based admission policies. The bottom line was that black students who might have done well at lower-tier law schools were recruited to more highly competitive law schools and turned into failures. One might be tempted to place the full blame for such callousness on deans of law schools, but the true villain is the American Bar Association.The American Bar Association is the accreditation agency for all law schools. If a law school has not been accredited by the ABA, it is ineligible for federal funding; its students are ineligible for student loans; most states do not allow graduates of a non-ABA- accredited law school to sit for the bar examination. As professor Gail Heriot says in her article "Affirmative Action in American Law Schools" in the Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues (2008), "A law school that is not in the good graces of the ABA is thus not a law school at all."
George Mason University Law School's experience provides an excellent example of ABA abuse. In 2004, the ABA summoned the university president and the law school dean before its Accreditation Committee and threatened the institution with revocation of its accreditation for its supposed lack of diversity. Shivering in their boots, GMU administrators reported a diversity improvement since the ABA's site visit in 2000. Their entering class of 2003 was 17 percent minority and their 2004 class was 19 percent minority, and they had appointed a diversity czar. Despite these efforts, the ABA was not satisfied. It complained that of the 99 minority students admitted in 2003, only 23 were black, and of the 111 minorities admitted in 2004, still only 23 were black, even though, in 2004, 63 black students had been offered admission.
Virginia has two other major public law schools, College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia. They did not win the ire of the ABA because, unlike GMU, they practiced a racially discriminatory admissions policy. The Center for Equal Opportunity monitors racially discriminatory college policy. Its publication, "Racial and Ethnic Preferences at the Three Virginia Public Law Schools" (www.ceousa.org/content/view/467/119/) reported that at the University of Virginia, a student with a LSAT score of 160 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.25 had a 96 percent chance of admission if he or she was black, but only a 3 percent chance of admission if white. At William & Mary, a black with a LSAT score of 155 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 had a 92 percent chance of being admitted, while a white with the same credentials had a 3 percent chance of admission. At GMU, not having racist policies, the chances for admission were roughly the same. Blacks with a LSAT of 155 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 had a 53 percent chance of admission while similar whites had a 50 percent chance.
The bullying practices of the ABA are truly a wicked, disgusting perversion. George Mason University Law School, which does not practice racially discriminatory admissions policy, is brought on the carpet by the ABA whilst University of Virginia and William & Mary, which have racially discriminatory admissions policies, have little problem. The sad fact of the matter is the ABA holds enormous life and death power over law schools, and they must cave in to ABA demands or else.
Several years ago, I taught "Economic Foundations of Legal Studies" at George Mason University Law School. I have attended many of their lecture series and social functions. As such I can attest to the high quality and moral stature of their faculty and administration. It pains me to see my very distinguished colleagues being forced to cave in to the racist demands of the American Bar Association.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
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