Diversity: A Fundamental American Principle
Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Missouri Law Review, Vol. 70, p. 777, 2005
In the debate preceding and following the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmative action decisions in June 2003, many commentators have criticized the use of diversity as a basis for justifying affirmative action in higher education. In their view, the Court should have abandoned the diversity rationale and either rejected the use of affirmative action by universities entirely or upheld affirmative action policies under a different rationale. Instead, the Court reaffirmed its view that universities have a compelling interest in promoting the diversity of their student bodies.
This article argues that both the Court in its defense of diversity and the critics of the diversity rationale have misjudged the public interest in diversity. Rather than having insufficient weight to justify affirmative action or reflecting a limited educational interest, diversity is a critical principle for much of American constitutional and social structure. In particular, the federalist system of government rests in large part on the belief that a diversity of approaches by the fifty states will lead to better government than would a single approach by the national government. Similarly, the American capitalist economic system is premised on the belief that the economy will flourish through a diversity of individual entrepreneurial activities rather than through a system of central control by the government. In short, not much is more American than the fostering of diversity.
By accounting fully for the importance of diversity, one can justify affirmative action not only in higher education but also other settings, including the workplace. Just as diversity promotes better governance and encourages economic prosperity, it also promotes excellence elsewhere.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: affirmative action, diversity
JEL Classification: K19Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 2, 2005
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