Interview with Robert Links

The national debate around this case centered on affirmative action versus reverse discrimination. Do you think that that truly characterizes the pivotal issues around this case?


Whenever the Bakke case is discussed, the two phrases you hear are reverse discrimination and affirmative action. I have to tell you that I don't know what either one of those things means. I know that the issues in the case go far deeper than any slogan. Ah, they cannot be discussed in a half an hour and they can't be answered in a half an hour. They involve profound philosophical questions that go to the heart of our society and the kind of country that we are and the kind of a nation that we want to become. And a lot of people say on Bakke's side of the case, "Well it's a quota and you can't have quotas." I happen to believe that's true but I don't think that kind of phraseology begins to answer the question. On the other side of the case, on the university's side, people say, "There's been racial injustice and we have to correct it." I happen to agree with that, but that doesn't answer the question either. And at stake you've got, deep down, and on the bottom line, the question of whether the government should ever use race as a decision-making factor. I believe the answer to that question is "No". I believe the answer to that question must be "No", because if the answer is anything else, you have a Pandora's box of problems that you can never answer, that you can never solve, and that will never end. And we can go into those if you want.