Life Beyond College

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Matthew Yglesias points out that John G. Roberts appointment to the Supreme Court could have serious consequences for affirmative action:

I’m not much of an affirmative action advocate (see, e.g., this), which explains why I haven’t been ringing the alarm bells on this. But surely we have some shrill affirmative action fans here on the left who should be yelling and screaming. But where? Perhaps the feeling is that this is a losing political issues, so people had best keep quiet about it, but the relative silence strikes me as odd since affirmative action is supposed to be one of our legendary “hot button” issues.

Sure, I’ll take on the shrill challenge. The Gregg Easterbook article Matt links to makes the case that attending an elite university really matters less for a person’s career prospects and lifetime earnings than one would think—i.e., not at all. Fair enough. There’s also a just-burgeoning debate over whether affirmative action at law school can hurt the chances of minority students for passing the bar. It’s not a settled debate by any means, but worth considering.

One should note, though, that there’s more to life than college, and more to affirmative action than making sure X number of black students get into the University of Michigan, or whatever. Under affirmative action laws, federal agencies are required to set aside a certain percentage of contracts of minority-owned small businesses. As the Washington Post today reports, that practice seems to be fueling a boom in those sorts of businesses. Then you have affirmative action hiring practices, which, one would think, actually do have a fair impact on a person’s career prospects and lifetime earnings. Whether this is a losing issue or not is a separate debate, but yeah, it’s important.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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