A Fighting Chance: Race Conscious Admissions, Social Science, and the Law


This paper explores whether the employment of expert witnesses increase the likelihood for college and university defendants in race conscious admissions suits. As the expenditures of the University of Michigan on expert witnesses throughout the course of the Michigan cases were considerable, it is appropriate to assess, in a pragmatic sense, the degree to which such expenditures are warranted. I find that while the overall legal developments in the area of race conscious admissions suggest that plaintiffs are more likely to win these suits, where most defense victories have been made, social science evidence was presented. In effect, social science research seems to give college/ university defendants a fighting chance. However, it is not efficient in subsequent suits to employ the number of social scientists used in the Michigan cases. Data is but one means of persuasion, which alone does not assure victory.


Education Law

Date of this Version

March 2006