Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools: Responding to the Critics

Although my article on affirmative action appeared in the Stanford Law Review less than five months ago, a legion of critics has sprung into print, publishing rebuttals with very non-ivory-tower speed. By my (probably incomplete) count, eleven articles entirely devoted to "debunking" Systemic Analysis have been published or accepted for publication in legal or education journals, and dozens of more informal critiques have appeared in the media and a variety of websites.

Through most of this period, I've tried to focus on taking the criticisms to heart -- understanding the arguments, looking closely at the evidence, and trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. I am publishing a lengthy response to critics in the May issue of the Stanford Law Review (which probably won't be out for another four weeks) and a shorter response in the June issue of the Yale Law Journal (which should be out in two or three weeks). These responses tend to be pretty technical and very detailed. What I would like to do in this space, for the next couple of weeks, is something more informal and, I hope, more interactive.

So starting Friday, June 10th in this space, I will examine seriatim the fallout and controversies that followed in the wake of Systemic Analysis. I will leave an open comments section at the end of each post, and on the following workday I'll both cover a new topic and address significant questions raised in the last day's comments. If any of the major critics or commentators on the article is willing, I'd love to arrange an on-line debate on this or any other site. My goal is to have a substantive, issue-driven discussion that goes into some depth while avoiding arcane terminology.

In the first column this Friday, I will discuss a new data source which no one, including myself, had looked at before Systemic Analysis was published, and which provides the most definitive test yet devised for the arguments I've advanced about racial preferences.