In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding Fisher v. University of Texas, Randall Kennedy’s For Discrimination is at once the definitive reckoning with one of America’s most explosively contentious and divisive issues — and a principled work of advocacy for clearly defined justice. What precisely is affirmative action, and why is it fiercely championed by some and just as fiercely denounced by others? Does it signify a boon or a stigma? Or is it simply reverse discrimination? What are its benefits and costs to American society? What are the factors determining who should or should not be accorded affirmative action? When should affirmative action end, if it must?

Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School professor and best-selling author, gave us a concise, gimlet-eyed, and deeply personal overview of the policy, exploring the myriad complexities of an issue that continues to bedevil American race relations. Kennedy accounted for the slipperiness of the term “affirmative action” as it has been appropriated by ideologues of every stripe; delved into the complex and surprising legal history of the policy; coolly analyzed key arguments pro and con advanced by the left and right, including the so-called color-blind, race-neutral challenge; critiqued the impact of Supreme Court decisions on higher education; and pondered the future of affirmative action.

Randall Kennedy  

Randall Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Yale. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and is a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is the author of six books, including Race, Crime, and the Law, for which he received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. A member of the bars of the Supreme Court of the United States and the District of Columbia, and of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he lives in Massachusetts.


“For Discrimination; Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law” – Book Discussion with Randall Kennedy | Posted on September 27th, 2013 | Public Programs