John Leo

In dissent, Judge Danny Boggs noted that "a significant proportion" of the Michigan law school applicants who lose out because of "diversity" preferences are Jewish. Though the plan is pro-minority, not anti­Semitic, he says it reduces the number of Jews much the same way anti-Semitic Ivy League admissions policies did in the 1930s (not to mention the 1920s, '40s and '50s). In those days, as one writer put it, "If you were a Jew with an A average and 1600 on the boards, you wouldn't get into Yale as fast as a South Dakota farm boy with a gentleman's C."

It's a grave charge that Jewish quotas are making a comeback of sorts as a byproduct of "diversity" preferences. "Diversity" people are committed to the rhetoric of "underrepresentation": Every aggrieved group is entitled to the same proportion of university slots as its percentage of the population. But where will these slots come from? The so-called white ethnics are already "underrepresented." A few years ago, the head of the National Italian-American Foundation said Americans of Italian ancestry account for 8 percent or 9 percent of the American population and only 3 percent of Ivy League students. The slots can come only from the two groups that have dramatically exceeded expectations: Jews and Asian-Americans.

Jews are only 2 percent of the population, but at Ivy League schools they account for 23 percent of students. In diversity-speak, a language with no word for merit, this means that Jews are "overrepresented" and logically headed back toward quotas. Boggs writes: "The law school and the court will certainly deny this, but that is where the figures unavoidably lead us."

Affirmative action started out as a mild and temporary tie-breaking plan applied to equally qualified candidates. It mutated into a huge boost for low-scoring minority candidates. At the University of Michigan Law School, race is worth more than one full grade point of college average. And now it seems headed for "representation" quotas for all racial and ethnic groups. Is this any way to run a university?

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

Be the first to read John Leo's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.