A great deal of what law students and lawyers do is �policy analysis,� but of course most of it is casual, ad hoc, and wide of the mark. The purpose of this seminar is to develop some rigorous tools for evaluating a specific area of public policy and drawing careful links between policy, legal advocacy, and the formulation of law. This year, the course will study affirmative action in college and graduate school - or more specifically, the use of racial preferences in admissions. Over the past half-dozen years, there has been an outpouring of social science work on the nature and effects of these preferences, along with a flurry of court decisions and referenda. We will examine the literature in depth, developing analytical methods over the course of the semester to distinguish the wheat from the chaff and determine where there is academic consensus and what is still unknown or disputed. We will also look closely at the Supreme Court�s use of policy analysis and expert evidence in the twin 2003 University of Michigan cases (
Gratz), and consider how social science can be used both in advocacy and in crafting judicial opinions.
The course assumes no prior training in statistics, although students should be prepared to get their feet a little wet in a variety of basic quantitative methods. The course grade will be based on seminar participation and a 25-page paper.