- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

Virginia Delegate Robert F. McDonnell, who is running for state attorney general, said yesterday state colleges should not base admissions decisions on race.

“We need to do everything we can under the law to move toward a color-blind society,” the Virginia Beach Republican told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “The time has now come, 40 years past the Civil Rights Act, that we ought to do everything we can at the K through 12 level to train all of our kids — black, white, brown, rich, poor — to get a good education so they are able to compete for entry into the colleges and not to have to guarantee slots.”

A delegate since 1992, Mr. McDonnell said quotas and racial preferences at colleges were needed after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to help transition society.

“I think that time has passed,” he said. “If we are really interested in a color-blind society, people ought to compete on their merits.”

Mr. McDonnell, 50, and Richmond lawyer Steve Baril will square off in the state’s June 14 primary. The winner is expected to face Sen. Robert Creigh Deeds, Charlottesville Democrat, in November.

Mr. Deeds is expected to be the only candidate seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for state attorney general.

The issue of racial preferences surfaced in Virginia in April 2002 when Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, told state colleges in a memo that they should not base admission solely on race or sex.

In March 2003, Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors unanimously voted in a closed-door meeting to end affirmative action in its admissions process. However, that decision was reversed after pressure from students, alumni, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat.

In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a split decision that upheld the University of Michigan law school’s policy of considering race.

The majority of the court decided the policy when applied to individual applicants can help achieve a “critical mass” of diversity. However, the court overturned the undergraduate admissions policy, which automatically awarded points to minority applicants.

Mr. Baril, who was not available for an interview yesterday, issued a statement addressing the racial preference issue.

“As the state’s highest legal officer, I’d make sure that the colleges and universities uphold the Constitution, as prescribed by the Supreme Court of the United States,” Mr. Baril said through his spokesman.

Mr. Deeds said Mr. Kilgore’s memo was “wrong.”

“I don’t believe in quotas, but I think it is right that we have a policy that encourages the admission of minorities in our institutions of higher learning to make up for 350 years of wrongs that were committed against African-Americans and minorities in general,” he said yesterday. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The Supreme Court’s decision did not address scholarships reserved for students of specific races.

Since the decision, some Virginia schools reportedly have opened up scholarships previously reserved for black students to all students.

Mr. McDonnell said schools should have the freedom to determine how they want to distribute financial aid.

Mr. McDonnell, who serves as chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, also said illegal aliens should not be allowed admission to state colleges and universities.

The only quotas Mr. McDonnell recommends are those that guarantee spots to Virginia students rather than out-of-state students or illegal aliens.

“We have a huge problem in America with illegal aliens in our country,” he said. “We just cannot let anybody who is not legitimately here in the United States or in Virginia have the same rights or benefits as a taxpaying citizen.”

The state House has made several attempts to bar colleges from admitting illegal aliens, but the state Senate has defeated those efforts each year.

Allowing illegals admission to colleges “completely undermines the work the [government] is doing to make sure that everybody is playing by the rules,” he said.

Mr. McDonnell also is campaigning in favor of deregulation.

“There has been an expansion of government law and regulation over the last four or five decades,” he said. “Much of it has been prudent, but each new law and regulation ebbs away at somebody’s liberty and freedom a little bit and I think we’ve got to do some things to get our regulatory climate under control. It stifles business and doesn’t allow families and business people to reach their full potential.”

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