Interview with Luke Harris

In thinking back to the decision on the Bakke case, what disappointed you about the thinking embodied in it?


Well, there were a couple of things in particular I would have to say that were very disappointing about the decision. I mean, first of all, it seems to me that in a sense the decision took place in almost a historical vacuum. I mean, here we have, ah, arguably, the most important, ah, civil rights case since Brown, ah, that's supposed to, ah, be about the nature, the inherent nature of Affirmative Action programs, a range of programs that were created to deal with legacies of, of, of, ah, centuries of discrimination, racial discrimination in this country. And the focus of the case is not the perceived needs, not the Constitutional rights of people of color, but rather the perceived needs, the per,., perceived Constitutional rights of a individual, middle class White American male. Now, there are problems with that and I think the problems with that, ah, flow into how this issue has been discussed in the media, ah, for years. And the basic problem is that really, ah, we wind up discussing, ah, Affirmative Action in a historical context that suggests that apartheid can end on Tuesday and racism disappears on Wednesday. Now, if apartheid ended in South Africa tomorrow, no one would assume that racism would end the following day. And apartheid ended just a few short decades ago in this country and it does not seem to me that the type of issues that are being discussed in terms of Affirmative Action in contemporary America really relate to the historical reality that made it, made it, ah, ah, important that Affirmative Action programs that exist in the latter part of the 20th century.


Okay, cut.