Emory Law Journal


This Article proposes that class-based affirmative action enjoys widespread support from people across the political spectrum because it is imagined to benefit the ¿deserving poor.¿ Class-based affirmative action enjoys bipartisan political popularity because it is imagined to benefit these respectable poor people¿folks who are deserving of a ¿leg up¿ in the admissions competition and deserving of programs designed to assist them. Alarm bells should ring because, throughout history, the categories of the deserving and undeserving poor have been racialized¿and, frequently, racist. Indeed, if history is a teacher, then class-based affirmative action will lose its popularity if poor racial minorities are (or are imagined to be) class-based affirmative action¿s primary beneficiaries. The Article argues that if class-based affirmative action functions to assist people of color in disproportionate numbers, it will be reimagined to be a program that assists the undeserving poor, and its political tenability will suffer.