Empirically Derived Compelling State Interests in Affirmative Action Jurisprudence

52 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2013 Last revised: 12 May 2014

See all articles by Meera E. Deo

Meera E. Deo

Southwestern Law School; Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE)

Date Written: April 2014


In the 2013-14 term, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the legality of a Michigan Constitutional amendment banning affirmative action. Traditionally, educational diversity has been the only compelling state interest that satisfies strict scrutiny in affirmative action challenges. This Article provides additional support for the interest of educational diversity, and proposes three additional compelling state interests for courts to consider. Support for these compelling state interests comes directly from detailed quantitative and qualitative analyses of empirical data collected from Michigan Law students, relating to their preferences for diversity, perceptions of campus climate, and professional aspirations. These findings indicate that educational diversity should remain a compelling state interest, and that courts should also consider the importance of (1) avoiding racial isolation, (2) promoting service to underserved communities, and (3) facilitating diversity in American leadership.

Keywords: strict scrutiny, empirical research, affirmative action, diversity, compelling state interest

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Deo, Meera E., Empirically Derived Compelling State Interests in Affirmative Action Jurisprudence (April 2014). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 65, No. 3, p. 661, 2014, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 2315787, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2315787 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2315787

Meera E. Deo (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) ( email )

1900 E. Tenth Street Eigenmann Hall
Suite 419
Bloomington, IN 47406-7512
United States

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