Ryan Fortson


This Article will view the relationship between affirmative action and law school admissions through the lens of The Bell Curve, a book suggesting that a genetic link probably exists between race and intelligence. In The Bell Curve, Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein conduct a statistical analysis on a variety of aptitude tests and other measures of intelligence, concluding that blacks and whites do differ on standardized tests of cognitive ability, even when controlling for such factors as motivation and socioeconomic status. Indeed, much of the book is geared toward discounting environmental explanations of intelligence scores. The relevancy that The Bell Curve has to the affirmative action debate is in the ways that arguments for and against affirmative action must be altered when faced with divergent assumptions about genetic differences in human intelligence. The theoretical arguments derived from the thought experiment in viewing affirmative action in light of varying posited levels of intellectual ability are not important, because this Article expects people to be convinced that there are in fact genetic differences in intelligence. The author hopes, however, that no one believes there are such differences.'" Rather, engaging in the thought experiment of assuming The Bell Curve to be true allows one to understand not only the core principles of the arguments for and against affirmative action, but also any inconsistencies that may exist in these principles.