Edward Blum worked for years to defeat affirmative action. He didn’t finish.

Are workplaces’ concerns different from schools’ when it comes to why diversity matters?

So if a bar on Boston’s South Side is known as Flanagan’s Bar, and it’s known as Irish, it can be Irish, and the owner is Irish, and the bartenders are Irish, and the staff is Irish, and a large percentage of all the customers are Irish, Flanagan’s can’t put up a sign saying, “Bartender Wanted.” .must be Irish,” because my clients are Irish.

Of course.

It works the same way. No difference. If an African American or a Hispanic goes and applies for that job, Flanagan can’t tell that African American or that Hispanic, “Well, you know, my profits are going to go down because, you know, my customers really need Irish. If I hire a black bartender they’ll go to O’Malley’s bar down the street. It is illegal.

Of course it is.

So it’s illegal—I’m going to pull a name out of the air—if Google says, “We need to hire, you know, African-Americans for this position,” or “We have a lot of white people, so we need more Asians. All of that is illegal right now, but Not challenged as often as I think.

So are you planning to transfer your yente skills to the next workplace?

I think one area that’s getting a lot of attention, not just from me, but from other organizations, other legal policy foundations, is employment. I think some of the things we associate with higher education — internships, scholarships, some research grants — need to be rethought if they’re racially exclusive.

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Do you think this decision has made it easier to continue your work?

Well, I’ve said it in the past: this comment is the end of the beginning. This issue of race and ethnicity is not going away in our public life.

Are you worried that this affirmative action decision, in 20 or 30 years, will make America less fair to many people? How would you feel if that happened?

I don’t believe it will come to pass. It is now up to the higher education world to develop fair and equitable admissions policies that do not discriminate on the basis of race. It depends on them. Each of them now has an organizational responsibility and an individual responsibility. They have their work to do.

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