The Death of Affirmative Action?

12 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2013

See all articles by Michele Goodwin

Michele Goodwin

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: June 24, 2013


This Essay urges a more robust examination of affirmative action policies applied in the United States. It suggests that there is more to be said about affirmative action than the narrow, predictable frames typically accounted for in the literature that places race at the center of the debate. Rather, this project takes up the role of gender and the middle-class white family. On the one hand, it makes the case that legal scholarship has overlooked that affirmative action benefits middle class white families. On the other hand, it explains that, overwhelmingly, the lead litigants opposing affirmative action have been white women. The Essay examines the legacy of exclusion from education in the US, including the pernicious quota systems imposed against Jews in the 20th century. It concludes by challenging scholars and educators to think beyond traditional frames and to critique who really benefits from and who is left behind in the application of contemporary affirmative action practices in the United States.

Keywords: Affirmative Action, Gender Discrimination, Race, Class, Fisher v. Texas, Grutter v. Gratz, Jews, Racism, Antisemitism, Social Justice, Education, Equality, Integration

JEL Classification: H10, H11, H41, H42, H52, H53, I21, I28, I31, I38, J15, J16, J24, J71, J78, Z10

Suggested Citation

Goodwin, Michele, The Death of Affirmative Action? (June 24, 2013). Wisconsin Law Review, 2013:715; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-24. Available at SSRN:

Michele Goodwin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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