Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cassidy identifies the real Fischer case outrage

"For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,"
2 Timothy 3:2

We haven't paid particularly close attention to the Fischer case.  While affirmative action is a counterproductive and obnoxious policy, it's also a low-value political minefield where you can't accomplish much even if you're successful.  If you want real change in higher education, go after the money and the political favoritism.

Speaking of political favoritism, however, the indefatigable Jon Cassidy has a must read piece in the American Spectator about the Court's ignorance of the admissions scandal during it's Fischer ruling:
The Supreme Court upheld affirmative action at the University of Texas in a 4-3 decision Thursday by openly ignoring the facts of the case.
In his opinion for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy dismissed a bombshell report on admissions corruption at UT as mere “extrarecord materials” which “the Court properly declines to consider.” The excuse would have been a lot more convincing coming from anybody else.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing the dissent for himself, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Clarence Thomas, found those records not just worthy of consideration, but devastating both to UT’s argument, and to Kennedy’s rationale for accepting it. They prove that UT’s official story about how race is considered in admissions is little more than a cover story. For more than a decade, the school has been running a backdoor affirmative action program for the wealthy and politically connected.

That’s hypocritical, of course, for an institution that opposes privilege with such sanctimony, not to mention self-defeating, but it’s also directly relevant to Kennedy’s given standard. “Racial classifications,” he has written, “are a last resort.” If that’s true, and if UT’s backdoor program has been contributing to classes that are too rich and white, then shouldn’t the first resort be to stop doing crooked favors for rich white parents? Wouldn’t a level playing field produce more diversity?

The answer is obvious, which is why Kennedy averted his eyes.

We know that the University of Texas lied to lower courts about how it conducted admissions, because that lie was exposed, in stages – by a board member named Wallace Hall, by reports in, by a whistleblower in the admissions office, in an investigation known as the Kroll report, in further reporting on the truly damning material left out of the Kroll report, and finally, perhaps one day, when the Texas courts force Chancellor Bill McRaven to turn over 25,000 pages of investigatory records he has hidden from his own board.

The legal principle the Supreme Court decided Thursday is whether UT’s defense of its affirmative action would survive “strict scrutiny.” But considering UT’s own board is blocked from scrutinizing admissions, it’s not clear what the court thinks it was scrutinizing. A bunch of decade-old legal fictions, I’d say, fictions exposed by the Kroll report.


The court knew nothing about them, and of course nobody knew anything about the students admitted through the secret admissions program set up by disgraced former president Bill Powers. We know now that from 2009 to 2014, at least 764 applicants who were initially denied admission were ultimately admitted through Powers’ secret back door, some with grade point averages below 2.0 and SAT scores in the 800s. The Cato Institute, citing my reporting for, argued that it’s likely the secret backdoor program “results in more admissions than… (the) ordinary ‘holistic review’ process” that the court was reviewing. In short, the actual admissions operation bore little resemblance to the decade-old record assembled in lower courts.

Kennedy’s reason for ignoring the reports on admissions corruption was that they “are tangential to this case at best.” He insisted that the university hadn’t had “a full opportunity to respond to” them. The weasel word there is “full,” as the university did respond to them in two briefs. Alito pointed out that six briefs in all referenced the admissions scandal, and even cited three passages in them that cite my own reporting.

Then Alito dropped the hammer: “the Court’s purported concern about reliance on ‘extrarecord materials’ rings especially hollow in light of its willingness to affirm the decision below, which relied heavily on the Fifth Circuit’s own extrarecord Internet research.”
Seriously, do read the whole thing here.

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