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“If Affirmative Action Ends, College Admissions May Be Changed Forever.” So read the headline of a recent New York Times article, which cited the two cases which went before the U.S. Supreme Court, in October, that considered the constitutionality of considering race in college admissions. The Court will issue a ruling later this year-- and many speculate that it might overturn more than 40 years of precedent and deem race-conscious admission practices unconstitutional. Ryan Park ’05, who argued one of those cases, will join Paul Smith ’76 P’09, who has previously argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, to discuss the past, present and future of affirmative action. Their conversation will be moderated by Pawan Dhingra, associate provost and professor of U.S. immigration studies.
Ryan Park ’05 is the solicitor general of North Carolina, where he oversees the state's civil appeals and advises Attorney General Josh Stein on legal policy and constitutional issues. On Oct. 31, 2022, Park argued at the Supreme Court for the University of North Carolina, which practices race-conscious admission, in the case of Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. He has previously practiced at a national law firm; worked as an attorney-adviser at the U.S. Department of State; and clerked for Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, Judge Robert A. Katzmann on the Second Circuit and Judge Jed S. Rakoff on the Southern District of New York.
Paul Smith ’76, P’09, is a professor from practice at Georgetown Law School and vice president for litigation and strategy at the Campaign Legal Center, which seeks to protect voting rights, to defend reasonable campaign finance regulation and to enforce government ethics rules. Before taking these positions in 2017, he practiced law at the firm of Jenner & Block LLP, where he became one of the most prominent Supreme Court advocates of his generation. He has handled many cases involving civil rights and civil liberties, notably in the areas of free speech, voting rights and gay rights. He has argued 21 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the landmark gay-rights case Lawrence v. Texas and Brown v. EMA, which established the First Amendment rights of video game producers. Paul was elected to the Amherst College Board of Trustees in 2016.
Pawan Dhingra is associate provost and the Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank '55 Professor of U.S. Immigration Studies in American Studies. Dhingra is a renowned scholar of Asian American studies, inequality, immigration, race, identity and culture. He is the current president of the Association for Asian American Studies, and has authored several books on the Asian American experience, including Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough, Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream and Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities. Dhingra also co-curated the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition Beyond Bollywood: Asian Indian Americans Shape the Nation.