#391: It’s almost May! This month, let’s read and discuss “Why Is Affirmative Action In Peril?”
Join us on Sunday, May 21 to discuss Emily Bazelon’s outstanding essay
Happy Thursday and happy almost-May, loyal readers. I’m very happy to announce that this upcoming month, we’ll be reading and discussing “Why Is Affirmative Action In Peril?” by Emily Bazelon.
You may know that the Supreme Court will be ruling on two affirmative action cases in June. It’s a big deal, given the current composition of the Court. Unless one of the conservative justices changes their mind, affirmative action might be dead.
I deeply appreciated Ms. Bazelon’s article because she offers context for the upcoming decisions. Instead of discussing the current cases in detail, Ms. Bazelon explains the history of affirmative action and tells the story of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the 1978 landmark decision that still serves as legal precedent.
Today’s issue is a three-parter. You get:
an introduction to this month’s article
a podcast episode with me and fellow Article Clubber Melinda, where we share why we liked the article so much
an invitation to join this month’s discussion on May 21
Before that, though — a little bit about the author: Ms. Bazelon is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine and is the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School. She is also the author of Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the current-interest category, and of the national best-seller Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. She is a co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest, a weekly podcast. Ms. Bazelon has generously agreed to record a podcast interview.
I hope you’ll read the article and join our discussion on Sunday, May 21, at 2 pm PT. You can find out more information about the article and discussion below.
Why Is Affirmative Action In Peril?
The Supreme Court most likely will strike down affirmative action in June. This article explains why. According to journalist and law lecturer Emily Bazelon, it all comes down to understanding Regents v. Bakke, the 1978 decision that banned racial quotas but preserved affirmative action. In order to lure enough justices, lawyer Archibald Cox devised a strategy that centered the benefits of diversity, rather than the responsibility of reparations, as the reason affirmative action should continue. In other words: Let’s forget that the 14th Amendment’s purpose was to give equal rights to Black Americans. In the short term, the tactic worked. The Court sided with Mr. Cox 5-4, and affirmative action has endured despite many challenges, including in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Fisher v. Texas (2016). But now with a much more conservative court, Ms. Bazelon suggests that affirmative action’s “diversity” rationale may be similar to abortion’s “privacy” rationale — way too flimsy to survive. (35 min)
This month, I warmly invite you to read, annotate, and discuss “Why Is Affirmative Action in Peril?” as part of Article Club.
If you’re interested, this how things will go:
This week, we’ll read the article
Next week, we’ll annotate the article as a group
The following week, we’ll hear from Ms. Bazelon in a podcast interview
On Sunday, May 21, 2:00 - 3:30 pm PT, we’ll discuss the article on Zoom.
If this will be your first time participating in Article Club, I’m 100% sure you’ll find that you’ll feel welcome. We’re a kind, thoughtful reading community. Feel free to reach out with all of your questions.
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