The Atlantic

Why Sandra Day O’Connor Saved Affirmative Action

Her struggle with the issue suggests that it won’t be easy to stop the consideration of race in admissions.
Source: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

In December 1996, Sandra Day O’Connor came to the University of Michigan to receive an honorary degree. Walking through the basement of the law school with an associate dean, she saw that the walls were plastered with notices from various race- and gender-based groups. “She was appalled,” recalled the dean, Kent Syverud. “Is this what diversity is going to be all about?” she asked him. She disliked victimhood and identity politics, which she saw as undermining her ideal of an all-inclusive civil society. Syverud, who had once been an O’Connor law clerk and is now president of Syracuse University, characterized

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