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Gary Allison gary-allison at UTULSA.EDU
Thu Mar 8 09:42:40 PST 2001

Lynne Henderson wrote:

Gary's conclusion that "affirmative action" would "apply *only* to an
appointee whose resume would not get him considered. . ." is *exactly* one
of the negative the usages to which I was referring.  As Mark notes,
affirmative action can and does include plus factors and preferences among
roughly "equal" individuals (of course the starting point for comparison for
"equal" is itself controversial).

To which I reply:

This was Lynne's response to my objection to classifying Thurgood Marshall
as an affirmative action appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.  My
objection was to several e-mail's seemingly classifying Justice Marshall as
an affirmative action appointment simply because he was African-American
and President Johnson was looking to shore up his support in the
African-American community by nominating an African-American to the U.S.
Supreme Court.  I suggested that Justice Marshall was so well-qualified
that had his race not been known he would have been accepted as more than
qualified based on his record as a litigator.

This objection was not intended to put me in league with those who
continuely defame affirmative action beneficiaries as not qualified for the
position or school admittance they receive.  Personally, I believe so many
of the factors used to judge qualifications have little predictive value as
to whether a person can do a job well or succeed in a particular academic
program.  Given this nation's obsession with numbers and statistics, it was
inevitable that affirminative action was created to insure that great
numbers of qualified persons receive consideration for jobs and school
admittance who previously were ignored.  I do believe affirminative action
has placed too much emphasis on race, ethnicity and gender to the detriment
of socio-economic background.  As a consequence, it has lost political
support from lower-middle class and lower class whites, men and women, who
have not often been included in the pool of affirminative action
beneficiaries and therefore have come to regard affirminative action as one
more obstacle to their upward mobility.  In this regard, when called on to
discuss the merits of affirmative action, I proudly tell the audience that
I am an affirmative action baby because Columbia admitted me to its LL.M.
program to help it meet its goal of achieving geographic and socio-economic
diversity.  The factor that helped me gain admission was being from
Oklahoma, a state that was regarded as providing its children with mediocre
to poor educational opportunities.
Gary D. Allison
Professor of Law
University of Tulsa College of Law
3120 E. 4th Place
Tulsa, Ok 74104
(918) 631-3052 (O); (918) 631-2194 (F)
gary-allison at

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