Reimagining Merit as Achievement
Law Review Article
admission criteria, law school diversity, affirmative action, race-neutral alternatives
Higher education plays a central role in the apportionment of opportunities within the American meritocracy. Unfortunately, narrow conceptions of merit limit the extent to which higher education broadens racial and socioeconomic opportunity. This article proposes an admissions framework that transcends these limited notions of merit. This “Achievement Framework” would reward applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who have achieved beyond what could have reasonably been expected. Neither race nor ethnicity is considered as part of the framework; however, its nuanced and contextual structure would ensure that racial and ethnic diversity is encouraged in ways that traditional class-conscious preferences do not. The overarching goal of the framework is to help loosen the “Gordian knot” binding race to class by ensuring that higher education opportunities are apportioned in true meritocratic fashion.