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“Racial mirroring” refers to efforts by one group to match the primary racial composition of another group. In contrast to racial balancing, which takes place when two groups are adjusted simultaneously to achieve a desired degree of racial equilibrium between them, racial mirroring occurs when the racial makeup of one group is adjusted so as to reflect the predominant racial identity of the second group. Employers and even federal courts engage in racial mirroring. For example, in order to generate trust among customers, employers have hired or promoted individuals of the same race as the employers’ primary customer base. Further, in order to ensure that attorneys can fairly and adequately represent the interests of their clients, a federal district court judge required counsel in class action cases to staff attorneys that reflect the racial diversity of the clients. Federal appellate courts have approved these twin forms of racial mirroring. This Article challenges employer and judicial attempts to match the racial identity of one group to the primary racial identity of another. It argues that these practices, however intuitive and well intentioned, violate the Equal Protection Clause, embody harmful racial stereotypes, and generate significant social costs.


University of Pennsylvania

Publication Title

Journal of Constitutional Law





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Law and Race Commons



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