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.
Deborah 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.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, is one of the nation's top experts in constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. He is the author of seven books, the latest being The Conservative Assault on the Constitution (Simon & Schuster, 2010). His casebook, Constitutional Law, is one of the most widely read law textbooks in the country. Chemerinsky has also written nearly 200 law review articles in journals such as the Harvard Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Stanford Law Review and Yale Law Journal. He frequently argues appellate cases, including matters before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeal, and regularly serves as a commentator on legal issues for national and local media. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.S. from Northwestern University.
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.
Stuart Taylor Jr. is a nonresident Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.
Constitutional law, international law, legal affairs, Supreme Court
Previous Position(s): Senior Writer, American Lawyer Media (1989-1997); McGraw Distinguished Lecturer in Writing, Princeton University (1988-1989); Reporter and Supreme Court correspondent, New York Times (1980-1988); Attorney, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (1978-1980); Reporter, Baltimore Sun and Evening Sun (1971-1974)