BAKKE, DEFUNIS,AND MINORITY ADMISSIONS: The Quest for Equal Opportunity by Allan P. Sindler


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When the Supreme Court finally issued its Bakke decision last June, months of nervous expectation and legal bickering went down the drain--hoping for guidance from the collective Solomon of American law, the public received instead a fractured tablet that sent Bakke to medical school and confused everyone else. Having started this study well in advance and needing only the conclusion to wrap it up, Sindler must have felt the pang of anticlimax too, even though he was prepared for it, having already laid out the near-impossibility of judicially resolving the issue of minority advancement schemes. Through his thorough review of the facts of both Bakke and DeFunis--a similar suit brought against the University of Washington Law School and mooted by the Supreme Court--and a sample of some survey data on public attitudes, Sindler makes it clear that these cases are part of a broader political setting that frames the legal issues. The Court's decisions reflect that setting: examining the three separate decisions and the three-way division within the Court, he argues that the critical Powell position--which shifted the focus from the Fourteenth to the First Amendment--was a clever, though constitutionally flimsy, attempt to avoid a commitment in any direction, thus reflecting the absence of a public consensus. Though he emphasizes that a near-majority of the Court (four) ruled that, on principle, minority advancement through preference is constitutionally valid, Sindler shies away from arguing a case himself, which, coupled with the lack of Supreme Court resolution, deprives the book of force or direction--he should take a cue from Ronald Dworkin (most recently, in the New York Review) and stick his neck out. A valuable background to the issues involved, but limited to what is now just another case.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1978
Publisher: Longman