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Ten years after Rustin published "From Protest to Politics" Allan Bakke received his second rejection letter from the Medical School of the University of California at Davis.
For Sowell, affirmative action in America is literally a question of life and death, as illustrated by the case of Patrick Chavis, a black man admitted to the medical school of the University of California, Davis, the same school that rejected Allan Bakke. For years, the liberal affirmative action establishment touted Chavis, as Sowell notes: "The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights made the usual comparison between Chavis and Bakke--to Chavis' advantage--in 1997, just two weeks before the Medical Board of California suspended Chavis' license to practice medicine in the wake of a suspicious death of one of his patients."
To draw such an inference, as opponents of affirmative action routinely do, is to indulge what I call "the causation fallacy"--the common yet mistaken notion that when white applicants like Allan Bakke fail to gain admission ahead of minority applicants with equal or lesser qualifications, the likely cause is affirmative action.
In 1973, a white student named Allan Bakke applied unsuccessfully for admission to the Davis Medical School at the University of California.
The Real Story of Allan Bakke's Admission to the Davis Medical School
In sum, Allan Bakke's admission to the Davis Medical School was a quirk, a result orchestrated in the course of litigation based on considerations unrelated to the merits of his causal claim.
But the Civil Rights Movement received a surprising blow in 1978, when the Supreme Court ruled that Allan Bakke, a young White man, was entitled to admission to the University of California Medical School because the school's affirmative action program discriminated against him.
The banner case for those opposed to affirmative action was that of Allan Bakke, a white student admitted to the University of California Medical School at Davis after the Supreme Court ruled that the school had discriminated against Bakke by setting aside a specific number of positions for a designated group.
Allan Bakke, who is white, was denied admission while black applicants with lower test scores were admitted.
Four justices believed that benign racial discrimination (i.e., discrimination that runs in favor of traditionally disfavored groups) is subject to a more lenient standard of review than other racial discrimination and should usually be upheld; their conclusion was that UC-Davis could carry on with its minority set-aside admissions policy and that Allan Bakke was out of luck.
As some have pointed out, all it really decided was that Allan Bakke could go to UC-Davis Medical School.