April 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 18, 2009

{ 5 comments }

1 Hans Bader 04.18.09 at 3:45 pm

Christina Hoff Sommers wrote in the Washington Post about a looming liberal war on science inflicted through Title IX regulations.

Based on a campaign promise Obama made to feminist groups in October 2008, Sommers worries that the Obama Administration will artificially cap male enrollment in math and science classes to achieve gender proportionality — the way that Title IX currently caps male participation in intercollegiate athletics. The result could be a substantial reduction in the number of scientists graduating from America’s colleges and universities.

Critics have long argued that the Title IX cap is in tension with the Supreme Court’s warnings against proportional representation. In a ruling by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Supreme Court said that it is “completely unrealistic” to argue that women and minorities should be represented in each field or activity “in lockstep proportion to their representation in the local population.” (See Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989)). In an earlier ruling, Justice O’Connor noted that it is “unrealistic to assume that unlawful discrimination is the sole cause of people failing to gravitate to jobs and employers in accord with the laws of chance.” (See Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust Co. (1988)).

But the Title IX athletics regulation mandates proportional representation. It contains three alternatives for compliance, but two of them are illusory in the long run. The first way (and only permanent way) to comply is to adopt a quota that artificially caps male participation. The second and third ways, which are only short-term fixes, involve continuous expansion of participation by, or satisfaction of all desire to compete by, the “underrepresented” sex. In a world of finite resources, these latter two ways can only work for a short period of time. I used to work at the agency, the Office for Civil Rights, that administers this regulation, and I think that it would be a mistake to apply standards designed for allocating resources among all-male and all-female sports teams to the very different context of math and science classes, which are coed.

But this is not an Administration that is very good with math and numbers. Obama claimed his $800 billion stimulus package was needed to avert “irreversible decline.” But the Congressional Budget Office says it will actually cut the size of the economy in the long run. His budgets don’t add up, either, piling up $9.3 trillion in red ink, and breaking his promises to enact a “net spending cut” and not raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year (through the SCHIP excise tax increase he signed, among others; see my blog post “Blind to Obama’s Broken Promises” about the many ways the Administration has broken its campaign promise of a “net spending cut”).

Some liberal publications are suspicious of scientific advances. The agronomist Norman Borlaug, who pioneered the Green Revolution, saved perhaps a billion lives in the Third World by developing high-yield, disease-resistant crops through biotechnology. For this, he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Medal of Honor. For this, he was smeared in the liberal magazine The Nation, which has an irrational phobia of biotechnology and genetic engineering, as being “the biggest killer of all.”

2 Robert 04.19.09 at 11:47 am

I’ve always thought it would make more sense to raise the DRIVING age to 19 or 20, and lower the drinking age back to 18.

3 Supremacy Claus 04.19.09 at 12:01 pm

Item 1.

The husband was convicted of first degree murder, not of “not guilty by reason of insanity.” This lawsuit second guesses the criminal trial with its higher burden of proof.

What is the extent of duty, and for how long should it last? To the world and forever, this judge is claiming.

4 PG 04.19.09 at 8:03 pm

Sommers’s only description of Title IX in her op-ed is “the law that requires universities to give equal funding to men’s and women’s athletics.”

Pity that she apparently doesn’t know enough about Title IX to realize that it has no particular provision for athletics, but instead says, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This basic mistake undercuts Sommers’s entire argument, which is premised on the idea that President Obama is illegitimately importing the sex equality in college athletics that Title IX requires, into areas like science education where Title IX never has applied. On the contrary, Title IX always has applied to any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, which includes most university laboratories.

Had Sommers bothered to check the statute she discusses — or even read the Wikipedia article about it — she could have made a much sounder argument about how the Department of Education’s regulatory interpretations of the statute have straitjacketed universities with regard to athletics, and that such interpretations should not be expanded to other programs and activities and perhaps are themselves a bad interpretation of the law.

5 San Diego Injury Lawyer 04.21.09 at 9:37 pm

Our law firm defended a lawsuit brought by Noni Gotti as part of her and her attorney, Theodore Pinnock’s, effort to sue dozens of businesses in the Chula Vista area of San Diego. Ms. Gotti claimed that she had attempted to visit my client’s business but it was clear that she had never been there, except perhaps in a drive by. She claimed that she wished to utilize our client’s services–a commercial fleet powerwashing company–but was not able to due to ADA violations at their shop which prevented her from accessing the store. Couple of problems. No customers or potential customers visit the store, because there is no store just offices. All work is done off-site at the client’s location, so the offices are inaccessible to clients. We were able to dismiss the lawsuit after providing some proof of the ridiculous allegations, but my client was still out for our legal defense fees.

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