From the WSJ's interview with Abigail Thernstrom:

The Voting Rights Act fits a familiar pattern. "This is the usual civil rights legislation story. It starts out being about opportunity and ends up being about results. We see that in any corner of the civil rights picture that you want to zero in on."

She adds: "I think there's a running assumption through all of the writing on the left about racial issues that, were it not for racism, you would have random distribution of racial and ethnic groups in education, employment, contracting, elections—whatever you're looking at. But the notion of random distribution of blacks, Latinos, Jews, Armenians or whomever is absurd. It's indifferent to the reality of society. That's just not how people distribute themselves."

In February, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case about whether the University of Texas could use race as a factor in admissions, and Ms. Thernstrom couldn't be more thrilled. "It's a myth that in the elite schools you would have almost no black or Hispanic students" but for racial preferences, she says.

After the passage in 1996 of California's Proposition 209, which banned the use of race and ethnicity in public university admissions in that state, "the system as a whole did not lose blacks, and minority graduation rates went up. Nobody wants to talk about that. All that counts as far as these schools are concerned is what the freshman class looks like. They don't care what the senior class looks like."

MP: Nationally, only 43% of black students (36% for black males) graduated from college in 2006 compared to 63% for white students, meaning that the graduating senior college classes were much less racially diverse than the entering freshman classes.  At least part of the 20-point white-black racial gap in college graduation rates could be explained by "academic mismatch" - a consequence of affirmative action admission policies that admit minority students will lower academic qualifications than their white and Asian counterparts.  Result? The academic abilities of many minority students are not well matched with the academic abilities of non-minority students, and not well-matched with the academic rigor of the institution in general.