Interview with Eleanor Holmes Norton
QUESTION 9
JACKIE SHEARER:

So, can you tell us what you think some of the political implications were of the decision on the Bakke case? Hold on a second: Do you want us to cut, J.T.? Cut.


JACKIE SHEARER:

I want you to use your discretion, and don't be purist.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

That's good, that's good advice.


JACKIE SHEARER:

OK.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

One of the more unfortunate things about the Bakke case is it, is that it became the vehicle for educating, or should I say miseducating the public about affirmative action. The public learned about affirmative action lit--almost literally for the first time through the sound-bites, ten second sound-bites on television, with people polarized against one another. As a result, what is really a quite complicated concept, one hard enough to explain even if you have a lot of time, became digested as an element of un--of unfairness**. Now, if indeed affirmative action of the kind used in Bakke or in later cases had been unfair, you could have depended upon the conservative Supreme Court to have struck down such measures. Instead, in case after case after case, the court approved affirmative action, and as time went on, even strengthened affirmative action. For the public to understand this, somehow, however, it would have required the kind of, of, of, ah, for the public to have understood affirmative action as the Supreme Court was explaining it would have required a level of sophistication or education on the subject that simply was not being done. Above all, it would have required the kind of leadership that increasingly we did not have on this complicated and controversial issue.

JACKIE SHEARER:

Great. Cut. Good. OK, um, I would like to, um, oh, I, when I was giving you the overview of other teams and other subjects I forgot at least one. The team doing the--

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

You finished with the--

JACKIE SHEARER:

We're finished with the affirmative action.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

OK, great, all right, well, you see, I, I, I, I go by goals. You run in morning, I want to get to that place, I run there.

JACKIE SHEARER:

So now, I'd like to ask you--

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

Second line. OK.