Also see the University of Michigan Law & Economics Working Paper Series #05-007 (


Richard Sander’s Stanford Law Review article, “A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools,” has generated considerable attention and criticism. This included a critical essay in the May 2005 Stanford Law Review by the four of us, as well as others in the same issue by Professors Ian Ayres and Richard Brooks, Michele Landis Dauber, and David Wilkins. Sander’s “A Reply to Critics” also appeared in the same issue. For those following this empirical debate about the costs and benefits of affirmative action, we provide this working paper as a response to Sander’s “A Reply to Critics.” We show the weaknesses in the logic that underlies many of Sander’s assumptions and arguments and show that his reply does not salvage the case against affirmative action that he claimed to have made in his Stanford article. Rather, Sander’s reply explicitly or implicitly repudiates much of the methodology and many of the claims he made in “Systemic Analysis,” even as he clings firmly to its conclusion and compounds earlier analytic mistakes with new ones.


Civil Rights and Discrimination

Date of this Version

February 2006