CNN turned to conservative activist Gail Heriot to push the myth that affirmative action allows students of color to attend upper tier schools for which they are ill-equipped.
The Supreme Court is hearing Fisher v. Texas, a case challenging the University of Texas' affirmative action plan. In a report on the case, CNN's Joe Johns stated: "Conservative groups siding with Fisher argue it's not just about getting in. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission says studies show that using racial preferences can hurt minorities by starting them out near the bottom of their classes."
Johns then aired video of Civil Rights Commissioner Gail Heriot saying: "If they're towards the bottom of whatever class they go to, they are much more likely to give up on an ambition to major in science and engineering."
In fact, experts have debunked the theory Heriot pushed, which is commonly known as the "mismatch" theory. A court filing by professors of statistics and related fields explained that the research on which Heriot's argument is based "has major methodological flaws" and is "not good social science."
These experts pointed out that reliable studies actually disprove this theory. For instance, one study found that "minority students who benefited from affirmative action earned higher grades and left school at lower rates than others, and they expressed neither greater nor less satisfaction with college life in general."
Additionally, Heriot is not an unbiased member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Heriot was reportedly an alternate delegate for the 2000 Republican National Convention. She also is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, once served as an aide to Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, and served as the co-chair of a 1996 effort in California that outlawed affirmative action programs.