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Strive Asset Management founder Vivek Ramaswamy suggested that the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action played a major factor in Yale and Harvard’s decision to stop participating in U.S. News & World Report law-school rankings.
Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken said in a statement last week that the U.S. News rankings were “profoundly flawed” and the process was “undermining the core commitments of the legal profession.” The rankings “disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession,” according to the dean.
Harvard Law listed its own concerns about aspects of the U.S. News ranking methodology. Parts of the process, the school argued, “work against law schools’ commitments to enhancing the socioeconomic diversity of our classes; to allocating financial aid to students based on need; and, through loan repayment and public interest fellowships, to supporting graduates interested in careers serving the public interest.”
Ramaswamy, however, a graduate of both Yale and Harvard, doubts their accounts after looking at the Supreme Court’s schedule.
“I have a strong suspicion that the factors behind it, and especially the curious timing of these decisions, is driven by preparation for the Supreme Court striking down affirmative action, as I believe the Supreme Court should do, and is likely to do as well,” Ramaswamy told Fox News Digital.
Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina, alleging that the schools’ policies discriminated against Asian-American applicants. Many observers of the Supreme Court oral arguments earlier this month concluded that the justices are likely to side with the plaintiffs and bar the use of affirmative action in college admissions.
But if the Supreme Court comes short of direct clarity on the controversial policy, Ramaswamy argued, it gives the elite law schools a lot of “wiggle room,” for instance if the court doesn’t outright say affirmative action is unconstitutional and runs counter to the Civil Rights Act.
“And I think the calculus that some of them are making is to say that, ‘OK, if we can de-emphasize not only U.S. News & World Report rankings, but de-emphasize quantitative attributes for admission more generally, then at least we can achieve diversity by leaving it to randomness, leaving it to chance,” Ramaswamy said. “To say that, ‘We can’t look at test scores, we can’t look at GPAs in the same way, and we’re not as quantitatively inclined towards meritocratic criteria, then we’re more likely to get a random dispersion, and a random dispersion is at least going to be slightly more visually diverse than a non-random one that’s actually tethered to test scores.’”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board came to similar conclusions, arguing that Gerken “gave away the game” with the following quote.
“Today, 20% of a law school’s overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs,” Gerken said in the statement announcing its decision on the U.S. News rankings. “While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant. This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses.”
The editorial board said that line “sounds like cover for a desire by Yale to be free to admit students with lower test scores in service to diversity, but without taking a hit to its exclusive reputation.”
Ramaswamy condemned affirmative action generally as “institutionalized racism” and called instead for a “colorblind meritocracy.”
“It is institutionalized racism in the purest form,” Ramaswamy said. “I think it is the single greatest form of institutionalized racism in America today. And I think it is bad for Black Americans, as it is for White Americans, as it is for Asian Americans. It’s bad in different ways for each of those groups. And ultimately I think it’s a failed experiment.”
“I think the fairest and most just system for attributing awards, including admission, is exclusively through merit,” he later said. “What are your achievements? What are you excellent at? And that doesn’t just mean excellent in the classroom. It could be on the sports fields, it could be in an orchestra, could be in the arts. And yes it could be in math or science, in the classroom. But to use excellence in a colorblind manner as the sole arbiter in determining who gets ahead, who gets into these institutions.”
The scenario he described is not without its downsides, Ramaswamy conceded, saying it may well result in less racially diverse classes.
But affirmative action, he said, is little more than a “Band-Aid.” He advocated for going “upstream” to address the “root causes” of why many minorities are struggling academically, like “the failure in public education,” or the breakdown of families.
Asked to predict the Supreme Court outcome, Ramaswamy expected the court to curtail the scope of legal affirmative action and strengthen the multi-factor tests that they’ve used in the past, which he said would be a “shame.” Watering the policy down, he mused, would make it “even harder for these institutions to engage in race-based discrimination, but still giving them a little bit of wiggle room to actually do it through the back door.”
He hoped the court would have the “courage” to say affirmative action was a direct violation of law.
Yale didn’t respond to a request for comment, while Harvard redirected Fox News Digital to its initial remarks.
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