Supreme Court Asked to Hear University of Michigan Case

Black Issues in Higher Education, August 29, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Supreme Court Asked to Hear University of Michigan Case


A group that sued to overturn minority preferences in University of Michigan law school admissions has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 5-4 on May 14 that the Michigan law school's affirmative action policies did not constitute illegal discrimination (see Black Issues, June 6, 2002).

The court said the law school had a compelling interest in achieving a diverse student body. The appeals court has not yet decided a similar case about the university's undergraduate admissions.

Legal scholars have said the Michigan case could give the Supreme Court an opportunity to revisit California's Bakke case of 1978, which allowed consideration of race in admissions but banned racial quotas. In that case, a five-justice majority struck down the state-sponsored school's quota-based admissions program. Justice Lewis F. Powell wrote separately that schools could still consider race, so long as they did not use quotas. Courts around the country have set contradictory rules since then.

"I did not expect that it would take this long, but despite that, I am very glad to be at this point," says plaintiff Barbara Grutter, 48, who is White. The Center for Individual Rights sued for her after she was denied admission to the Michigan law school in 1996.

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