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Poll: 69 Percent Say Need for Affirmative Action In College Admissions Will End

Poll: 69 Percent Say Need for Affirmative Action In College Admissions Will End


Most Americans agree that in 25 years, colleges and universities should no longer need to look at an applicant’s race to make sure there is racial and ethnic diversity on campus, a new poll finds.

Seventy percent of respondents said they agree with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote in June that although the Constitution allows race to be a factor in college admissions now, there should be no need for that consideration in a quarter-century.

The survey for the American Bar Association (ABA) also found 88 percent of respondents think the nation has made substantial or some progress toward eliminating discrimination in public schools since the Supreme Court’s 1954 desegregation ruling.

The Harris Interactive poll was conducted by telephone with 1,011 respondents on July 24-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. The ABA, the nation’s largest lawyers’ group, released the poll during its annual meeting last month in San Francisco.

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer also took office last month as the first Black president of the 126-year-old ABA. Archer kicked off a yearlong observance of the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education by announcing appointment of a Brown v. Board of Education Commission, headed by Charles Ogletree of Harvard University Law School. The anniversary will be May 17, 2004.

“Unless you lived through it, it’s difficult to imagine the sense of frustration, the desire of parents to have their children go to good schools and universities,” Archer said.

The commission will lead the association’s activities to introduce a new generation of young people to the historic struggle to achieve equality for all Americans and to engage the public in debate over the extent to which the Brown decision’s promise of equal opportunity has been achieved.

A key component of the observance will take place in high schools across the country, as lawyers, judges, teachers and students engage in a “Dialogue on Brown v. Board of Education,” exploring the history of the decision and its continuing legacy in American law and society.

Archer, 61, said that for many people, this year’s Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action was the most important civil rights case since the Brown ruling.

O’Connor’s decision in a case involving the University of Michigan preserved the concept of affirmative action on campus. The court reasoned that the goal of a racially and ethnically diverse campus was important enough to justify giving minority applicants an edge.

In the ABA poll, 72 percent of respondents agreed strongly or somewhat that a fair legal system depends on racial diversity among judges, lawyers, court employees and law enforcement.

— Associated Press and news releases

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