Prof. West-Faulcon a Go-To Expert on Affirmative Action Policy, Litigation

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When university affirmative action policies come under attack, Professor Kimberly West-Faulcon’s expertise has been called upon to separate fact from fiction. Recent highly publicized challenges to such polices have been no exception.

This August, West-Faulcon’s voice has been a part of the dialogue surrounding news reports on groups challenging affirmative action policies at universities on the basis that they discriminate against white and Asian American applicants. This is due in large part to her new law review article, “Obscuring Asian Penalty with Illusions of Black Bonus,” published by the UCLA Law Review. The article, part of a large portfolio of her scholarship on the subject, “raises questions regarding the accuracy of blaming affirmative action favoring African Americans—a Black bonus—for racial discrimination against Asian Americans—an Asian penalty.”

Drawing on the research that informed her pivotal scholarship, West-Faulcon has been a key voice in the discussion of the recent affirmative action challenges. In the Huffington Post homepage-featured op-ed “Affirmative Action Allegations, Trump’s Newest Diversion Tactic, Are Fake News,” West-Faulcon took issue with the White House’s alleged calls on the Justice Department to investigate university affirmative action policies as discriminatory. 

“When I crunched the actual admissions numbers, I found it a mathematical error to blame the admission of what turns out to be very small numbers of African Americans to elite universities for the rejection of particular white and Asian American college applicants,” she writes.

Additionally, West-Faulcon has closely followed the lawsuit filed by Edward Blum, noted opponent of voting rights laws and affirmative action, alleging that Harvard University discriminated against Asian American them in its affirmative action policies. She previously followed the related case of Fisher v. University of Texas, also championed by Bloom, in which the U.S. Supreme Court validated the university’s consideration of race as one of myriad factors in college admissions. In an amicus curiae brief, she advocated for the university’s position based on data she studies.

After the Fisher opinion was announced, West-Faulcon noted that it “distinguishing racial affirmative action from racial discrimination.” In the SCOTUSBlog, “Surprisingly, Facts Rule the Day in Fisher II,” she wrote: “Kennedy took step one away from viewing the Equal Protection Clause as a race-blindness entitlement provision and one step toward eventually returning the Equal Protection Clause to its intended role as a rights-protecting provision.”

The spate of admissions challenges has a close nexus with another of West-Faulcon’s interest areas: race and testing. An expert in psychometrics and law, she studies the scientific meaning of standardized tests. The James P. Bradley Professor of Constitutional Law’s classes include Intelligence, Testing & the Law.

Prior to teaching, West-Faulcon was a celebrated civil rights litigator. Originally a prestigious Skadden Fellow in the New York office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund LDF), she went on to direct the Los Angeles office of the LDF before becoming Western Regional Counsel and Director.

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