Affirmative-Action Supporters Rally; March on Mall as Supreme Court Hears Michigan Case

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick Badgley, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Supporters of affirmative-action policies at colleges and universities welcomed thousands of demonstrators yesterday to what they called the "new civil rights movement" as they marched across the National Mall from the U.S. Supreme Court to the Lincoln Memorial.

The estimated 50,000 demonstrators, most of whom were college students, said a ban on affirmative action in admissions policies would have devastating effects on the numbers of black, Asian and Hispanic students who apply to colleges and universities.

"I have a little sister and a cousin, and I want them to get a fair chance," said Eboni Curry, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where the affirmative-action cases originated.

Almost all among the demonstrators were affirmative-action supporters; two opponents with handmade signs were ushered away by police after a crowd formed around them. Two other opponents, from the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), talked quietly to reporters. Some members with the Christian Coalition were also there.

"It may be the case today, but a majority of Americans agree with what we are saying," said Deborah Perry, senior fellow at the IWF, which filed a "friend of the court" brief in the case. "As we continue to categorize by race or religion, we're prejudging."

The high court was hearing arguments yesterday on whether race could be a factor in the admissions policies of public colleges and universities. The court's ruling could end any state-sponsored affirmative action or it could rewrite the rules for when race may be a factor in government decisions.

If the justices decide that affirmative action is unconstitutional, colleges and universities will be required to re-evaluate admissions policies that ensure that minorities are not underrepresented on campuses. …