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David Wippman.

In “History offers the best argument for continuing affirmative action,” an op-ed co-authored by President David Wippman and Cornell Professor Glenn Altschuler, the writers traced the evolution of affirmative action from the Reconstruction era to today’s Supreme Court hearing. The Oct. 31 Washington Post essay also documented the corresponding opposition beginning in the late 1960s.

“The court’s decisions will be shaped by decades of partisan contention over the meaning of affirmative action, during which opponents have distorted the policy’s justifications and obscured its successes,” the authors wrote.

Legal challenges to affirmative action legislation in higher education began in 1978, with the Supreme Court’s decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Wippman and Altschuler outlined the various cases up to today’s Students for Fair Admissions v. University of NC and Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard.

“…in the Harvard and University of North Carolina cases currently before the court, dozens of colleges and universities have cited mountains of social science research affirming the educational benefits of a diverse student body,” the authors wrote. “Retired senior military leaders, including four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have maintained that a diverse military is a “strategic imperative.” Dozens of America’s largest corporations have documented the vital role of race-conscious admissions in training business leaders.”

Earlier this year, Hamilton College joined 32 peer schools in signing an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina and the legality of a “race-conscious” admissions process.  President Wippman also co-authored an essay in support of affirmative action titled “What colleges are up against if the Supreme Court bans affirmative action” published in The Hill in August.

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