Affirmative Inaction: A Quantitative Analysis Progress Toward “Critical Mass” in U.S. Legal Education

Loren M. Lee*

Since 1978, the Supreme Court has recognized diversity as a compelling government interest to uphold the use of affirmative action in higher education. Yet the constitutionality of the practice has been challenged many times. In Grutter v. Bollinger, for example, the Court denied its use in perpetuity and suggested a twenty-five-year time limit for its application in law school admissions. Almost two decades have passed, so where do we stand? This Note’s quantitative analysis of the matriculation of and degrees awarded to Black and Latinx students at twenty-nine accredited law schools across the United States illuminates a stark lack of progress toward critical mass since Grutter and reveals the continued need for affirmative action in law school admissions.

* J.D. Candidate, May 2021, University of Michigan Law School. Michigan Law Review Vol. 119 Executive Production Editor. I would like to thank Professor J.J. Prescott for your guidance and feedback, Professor Robert Hirshon for helping me overcome obstacles, and Alpha Brady and Ken Williams of the ABA for your patience and assistance. Thank you to Professor Patrick Barry and Professor Margo Schlanger for your valuable feedback and to Professor Richard Primus for enshrining the O’Connor quote at issue in my mind. Thanks also to Jackson Erpenbach for being excited about this piece from day one and mentoring me every step of the way, and a special shout out to our incredible Vol. 119 Notez office. Thank you to my friends and family for your unwavering love and support. Thank you to Nathan Santoscoy for always listening and encouraging me to make this piece what it is. And finally, thank you to my parents for always knowing I’d make it this far. Your sacrifices have never gone unnoticed. Black Lives Matter.