An Analysis of the Contemporary Role of Social Science in the Law: The Case of Race Conscious Admissions


The present inquiry focuses on the role of social science evidence contemporarily, using observations from judicial opinions in race conscious admissions cases. Using a set of judicial opinions from K-12 voluntary desegregation and higher education affirmative action in admissions, I use legal and statistical analysis to argue that social science data presented into evidence does not affect the outcomes of court cases involving normative subject matters, such as those involving race. I find judicial political affiliation to be the greatest predictor of opinions in this area of law. However, the question is not whether social science evidence is influential or even persuasive, but whether it is useful in politically contentious cases. Contemporarily social science research can be informative and buttressing when wide- reaching policy decisions are made from the bench.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Education Law | Jurisprudence | Law and Society

Date of this Version

March 2006