The Future of Race in America

In the 2003 Supreme Court ruling Gratz v. Bollinger, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor argued that in 25 years, racial preferences would not be needed to determine admissions into institutions of higher learning. With this lesson students will learn, using a hypothetical case, about the future of race in America by examining the “narrowly tailored” admission policy of the University of Kentucky in the year 2011. The policy requires students who wish to benefit from their race in the admissions process to submit to a DNA test proving their ethnic makeup. However, the university quickly learns that the makeup of their students’ DNA does not always match how students perceive themselves or how others perceive them. In addition to examining this case, students will also learn about and analyze historic affirmative action cases. The lesson culminates with students viewing a clip of how some of the country’s sharpest legal minds ruled on the future case in a moot court. For assessment, students will write a feature piece for a newspaper about affirmative action: past, present, and future.

Note: For up-to-date coverage of this constitutional issue, read the National Constitution Center's blog, Constitution Daily.

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Grade: 12, 11, 10, 9
Standards: