Equality, Privacy and Lesbian and Gay Rights After Lawrence v. Texas
February 24-25, 2005
Few issues are as important in our public or private lives as education. It is the source of hope and frustration as we strive for racial justice in society. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the use of race as a factor in admissions decisions in order to obtain the educational benefits of a diverse student body.
However, Justice O'Connor in 2003, writing for the majority said, "We expect that 25 years from now the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today."
Justice O'Connor's words represent both an opportunity and a challenge; one which we must begin collectively addressing if we are to meet that 25-year goal. Achieving a diverse student body at the college level requires us not only to consider higher education, but has strong implications for K-12 as well, including the need to fulfill the promise of Brown.
O'Connor's challenge raises countless questions which we will seek to address at this symposium, with answers that could have profound implications for our entire society, including: What needs to be done today so that in 23 years the use of affirmative action is no longer necessary? Is it possible that affirmative action will not be needed to achieve diversity in higher education? Some may argue that its use is not necessary or even appropriate today. Others may accept the possibility of such a sunset, but argue that Justice O'Connor has underestimated the time needed. Still others may question the very legitimacy of suggesting that affirmative action may one day be unnecessary. Finally, what implications does this have for education at the K-12 level? Can we reach sustainable diversity in higher education without first fulfilling the promise of Brown?
I invite you to join us in addressing the possibilities and impediments of meeting Justice O'Connor's challenge. If we are to meet this 25-year goal we must begin collectively identifying and affecting policy, legal and social changes. Throughout the symposium, we will have presentations, panel discussions, and receptions to work towards this, with opportunities in between to greet your colleagues and meet new ones. For further information, please contact the Ohio State Law Journal at (614) 292-6829 or the Kirwan Institute at (614) 688-5429.
Professor john a. powell
Executive Director of The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity