Every month Intelligence Squared and the New York City Urban Debate League partner up! Intelligence Squared hosts monthly adult debates in Lincoln Center featuring the world’s most prominent experts on monthly topics. This month featured a debate on racial preferences which included some of the most noted constitutional and public policy experts including Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of UC Irvine Law School. Mr. Chemerinsky wrote an article in support of urban debate leagues “Inner City Schools Suffer when when debaters go silent.”
DEBATE TOPIC – THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE FORBIDS RACIAL PREFERENCES IN STATE UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that: “No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Yet many state universities give substantial preferences to certain races in their admissions decisions. In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), the Supreme Court approved such preferences, but the case was close, and controversial, and the question will be back before the Supreme Court this term. One side may argue that these preferences level the playing field, remedy prior discrimination, and enhance diversity within the classroom, thus redeeming the true promise of equal protection. But the other may say that these preferences – in favor of some races, at the expense of others – are racial discrimination pure and simple, the precise evil that the Equal Protection Clause was intended to forbid.
OR THE MOTION
Roger Clegg. President & General Counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity. Roger Clegg is president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity. He focuses on legal issues arising from civil rights laws – including the regulatory impact on business and the problems in higher education created by affirmative action. A former deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan and Bush administrations, Clegg held the second highest positions in both the Civil Rights Division (1987-91) and in the Environment and Natural Resources Division (1991-93). He has held several other positions at the U.S. Justice Department, including assistant to the solicitor general (1985-87), associate deputy attorney general (1984-85), and acting assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy (1984). Clegg is a graduate of Yale University Law School.
Stuart Taylor, Jr.Nonresident Fellow, Brookings & Co-Author, MismatchStuart Taylor, Jr. is an author, freelance writer, lawyer, and nonresident fellow with the Brookings Institution. Often called one of the nation’s leading legal journalists, he frequently writes on the Supreme Court and a wide range of legal and political issues. Stuart has coauthored several critically acclaimed books, including Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It (2010) in which he and Richard Sander explain how racial preferences harm minority students. He is currently coauthoring a book on the campus rape panic, focusing on how politicians, academics, and the media railroad the falsely accused. He wrote for The New York Times from 1980 to 1988; American Lawyer Media from 1989 to 1997; National Journal and Newsweek from 1998 to 2010; and various publications since 2010. He graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, and practiced law with Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering from 1977 to 1980.
AGAINST THE MOTION
Deborah ArcherDirector, Racial Justice Project & Professor, New York Law SchoolDeborah N. Archer, an expert in the areas of civil rights and racial discrimination, is a professor of law at New York Law School, where she also serves as co-director of the Impact Center for Public Interest Law, dean of diversity and inclusion, and director of the Racial Justice Project. She was previously an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated at the trial and appellate level in cases involving affirmative action in higher education, employment discrimination, school desegregation, and voting rights. She was also a fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was involved in federal and state litigation on issues of race and poverty. Prior to joining NYLS, Archer was an associate at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP. She has participated as amicus counsel in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Fisher v. University of Texas.
AGAINST THE MOTION
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Erwin Chemerinsky is the founding dean, distinguished professor of law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, with a joint appointment in political science. His areas of expertise are constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. Previously, he taught at Duke Law School, where he won the Duke University Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award, USC School of Law, UCLA School of Law, and DePaul University College of Law. He is the author of eight books, including The Case Against the Supreme Court (2014), and more than 200 articles in top law reviews. He frequently argues cases before the nation’s highest courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and also serves as a commentator on legal issues for national and local media. In January 2014, National Jurist magazine named Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the U.S.