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June 18, 2003

Affirmative Action in Medical School AdmissionsAffirmative Action in Medical School Admissions

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(23):3084. doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3084-a

To the Editor: It would be difficult to dispute the range of social benefits that Dr Cohen attributes to a diversely balanced medical work force.1 However, the issue before the Supreme Court in the Michigan cases, and the issue that will directly influence the impact of the verdicts on medical education, is whether these social benefits rise to the level of compelling state interests. And if they do, Supreme Court precedents will require that the means used to achieve them be narrowly tailored to meet each goal.2,3 Racial classifications by governmental bodies are considered intrinsically "odious" under constitutional law.4 Any race-conscious means used by a governmental entity to achieve a "compelling state interest" must therefore be "narrowly tailored" to limit the harm inflicted to achieve the benefit. To meet this requirement, no other less constitutionally offensive means of achieving the compelling interest must be feasible.

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