Racial Integration As a Compelling Interest

Authors
Elizabeth Anderson
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Abstract
The premise of this symposium is that the principle and ideal developed in Brown v. Board of Education2 and its successor cases lie at the heart of the rationale for affirmative action in higher education. The principle of the school desegregation cases is that racial segregation is an injustice that demands remediation. The ideal of the school desegregation cases is that racial integration is a positive good, without which “the dream of one Nation, indivisible”3 cannot be realized. Both the principle and the ideal make racial integration a compelling interest. The Supreme Court recognized these claims in Grutter v. Bollinger. However, it failed to take full advantage of them. It thereby failed to answer crucial questions that must be answered by policies subject to strict scrutiny. In this essay, I shall display the links tying Grutter to Brown, discuss the vulnerabilities of Grut- ter in the absence of an explicit grounding in Brown, and demonstrate how the affirmative action policy upheld in Grutter, when explicitly grounded in Brown, survives strict scrutiny. To understand this argument, it is helpful first to explain the integrationist perspective that underlies it.
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