Law Prof: CA Bar Swayed by Liberals
Posted Sep 19, 2007 6:31 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A UCLA law professor seeking more information about bar passage rates for minority law students is planning his next move after the State Bar of California turned down his request for historical data.
The Committee of Bar Examiners refused to release the information, saying test takers provided it in the belief it would be used only for studies related to the exam, the Recorder reports.
Professor Richard Sander sought the data so he could do a follow-up to his 2004 study (PDF) on affirmative action in law schools. It concluded that preferences allow minority students to attend schools for which they are not academically prepared, hurting their grades and their prospects of passing the bar exam. Critics have questioned Sander’s conclusions and asserted he was working with limited data.
Sander agrees he needs more information and says California is the best source, since it has routinely compiled detailed student information for 25 years. He suggests the state bar was swayed by liberal critics.
"We know this is a controversial issue, and I was prepared that they might turn us down," he said. "But I was shocked at the way they did it. ... It suggests that backers of current affirmative action programs are afraid of the facts."
Sander told the legal newspaper that two major California law firms are considering filing a pro bono lawsuit that seeks the information. He is also thinking of asking the state bar to reconsider or seeking help from a state legislator.
One of Sander’s supporters is Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
“Some of the same people who argue Mr. Sander's data are inconclusive are now actively trying to prevent him from conducting follow-up research that might yield definitive answers,” she wrote in an opinion column for the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) “If racial preferences really are causing more harm than good, they apparently don't want you—or anyone else—to know.”