Petra Pasternak, law.com, August 11, 2008
UCLA School of Law professor Richard Sander, along with former State Bar governor Joe Hicks and the California First Amendment Coalition, filed a writ petition Thursday asking the court to direct the [California] State Bar to hand over those records with redactions to protect test takers’ privacy.
Sander has been trying since 2006 to get the Bar’s data to build on a 2004 study he did that suggested affirmative action might be responsible for black students’ high bar failure rates nationwide. He postulated that race-based preferences had opened the doors of elite law schools to minority students who were academically unprepared, and that as a result, there were far fewer black lawyers in 2004 than there would have been if more minority students had attended—and thrived—at less elite law schools.
Now Sander and Hicks are involved in a group that wants to test the controversial “mismatch” theory further.
Their petition says that the number of test takers in California, their racial diversity and the quality of the Bar’s data collection make this state their best bet, but the State Bar has repeatedly rejected Sander’s requests for data that would include the race and academic credentials of each applicant, but not their names.
On Thursday, CFAC’s Scheer [California First Amendment Coalition Executive Director Peter Scheer] raised the question of academic freedom, contending that even Sanders’ critics had acknowledged the legitimacy of the research and the importance of the questions it raises. “It’s just that some people don’t want the research to continue to its conclusion, because it may be a conclusion that is politically incorrect, and that is something that should not even be considered by the State Bar.”