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June 27, 2003 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-27

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U-1111 Celebrates

'm ecstatic about the court's deci-
sion," said University of Michigan
Regents Chairman Laurence
Deitch of Bingham Farms.
"Justice O'Conner's [majority] opinion
in the law school case is very strong. It's
a clear affirmation of everything we've
been arguing — that diversity is a com-
pelling state interest and it's constitu-
The U.S. Supreme Court's dual deci-
sions on affirmative action June 23
upheld U-M's affirmative action pro-
gram at its law school, but struck down
its undergraduate admission policy, a
150-point system that gave an automatic
20 points to underrepresented minorities.
"The main thing is that the court reaf-
firmed that Bakke is still the law of the
land," said U-M Vice President and
General Counsel Marvin Krislov.
The 1978 Bakke vs. the University of
California case ruled out quotas in
school admission policies, but allowed
the consideration of race. It was the last
major affirmative action decision by the
it i Vk
Supreme Court prior to the U-M case.
Krislov said the court agreed that
diversity is clearly a compelling interest
and has a place in the admission process.
U-M President Mary Sue Coleman in front of the Supreme Court after the ruling.
"It's the giant principle we have been
fighting for," he said.
continue our commitment to diversity
admirable goals and, unfortunately, still
The cost of fighting the case through
and inclusion. We will probably hire
the federal courts, which is fully covered
more people for more individualized
Steven Silverman of Huntington
by the university's insurance, was a little
consideration. We will adjust our com-
Woods, president of the Jewish
over $9 million.
mitments and priorities because this
Community Council of Metropolitan
U-M President Mary Sue Coleman,
[diversity] is a core commitment by the
Detroit, agreed with Kellman's assess-
speaking Monday on the Supreme
ment. The Council, he said, has a long
Court steps after the rulings, said that
U-M Provost Paul Courent of Ann
history of supporting affirmative action
the decision was nothing less than a vic-
Arbor, in charge of undergraduate
programs when race is just one of the
tory for the university.
admissions policies, said the university's
factors and quotas are not utilized.
Justice Sandra Day O'Conner was
commitment to diversity is unchanged.
"There's no question that promoting
joined by the two Jewish justices, Ruth
"The court told us a more individual
diversity on campus is important for the
Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer,
process is more constitutional," he said.
learning process," added JCCouncil's
along with Justices John Paul Stevens
"Our job is to put together a process to
Eric Adelman, director of governmental
and David H. Souter, in support of the
implement that commitment."
law school's "individualized" and "holis-
However, U-M student Mike Medow
Jewish Reaction
tic" approach to each applicant.
of Ann Arbor, who just completed his
Opposed were Justices Anthony
The range of reactions in the Jewish
junior year and has supported affirma-
Kennedy, William Rehnquist, Clarence
community was largely favorable to the
tive action at school, is not as enthusias-
Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
court's decision.
tic. He's disappointed with the under-
In the 6-3 ruling in the second case,
"We were pleased with what hap-
graduate decision "because it affects so
against the U-M undergraduate admis-
pened," said Betsy Kellman, director of
many people." Unsure of what will
sions policy, the court considered the
the Anti-Defamation League Michigan
replace the point system, he hopes a new
undergraduate admissions program "too
Region. She was gratified by the Gratz
policy will affirm diversity. He would be
vs. Bollinger decision that struck down
upset if we lost the diverse campus, he
"We need to revise the undergraduate
the undergraduate policy. "We all along
point system. But we already have a con- felt this was narrowly tailored diversity.
From the opposite point of view, U-M
stitutional model — the law school," U-
And while our organization has always
philosophy professor Carl Cohen of Ann
M's Krislov said.
been for a diverse student body, we dis-
Arbor was disappointed by the court's
Though a revised undergraduate
agreed with the method of getting there.
decision because "the principle of diver-
admission plan is not yet in place,
"The most positive thing is that the
sity was allowed to serve as a compelling
Deitch said, "We're highly confident
court said yes to diversity and to affirma- need in the context of the law school
that we will make resources available to
tive action," she said. "They are
admissions." Although diversity is a

Supreme Court backs the importance of
diversity in higher education.

lat iM •

good thing, he added, it is not a com-
pelling need.
He was heartened the court struck
down the discriminatory point system.
"But the undergrad program will find it
very difficult to use the principals
approved in the law school case," he
said. "The law school enrolls 350 stu-
dents each year; the undergrad program
receives 25,000-plus applications."
The most unfortunate outcome, he
0 said, is there will be much more litiga-
tion on this matter. "I hoped the situa-
tion would be resolved with clear princi-
0 ples," Cohen said. "It's regrettable the
n court didn't take the opportunity to end
racial preferences completely, as they
could have done."
U-M law and sociology professor
Richard Lempert thought the court was
"very clear and quite definitive. The uni-
versity cannot mindlessly favor one per-
son over another because of race, but
can consider race along with other fac-
Lempert said, "There are many ways
the court could have decided to uphold
affirmative action. But it's hard to imag-
ine an opinion that could have vindicat-
ed the law school's policies any better
than this one. It clearly established prin-
ciples that the law school has tried to
uphold all along.
But the decision was not clear enough
for attorney Terrance Pell of the Center
of Individual Rights in Washington,
D.C., who represented the applicants
who sued U-M. He told the Washington
Post that it still isn't clear how to have
diversity without discrimination. "We
will continue to fight race-based policies
in the courts," he said.
U-M attorney Krislov was excited
about the court's decision and it's implica-
tions. He praised Justice O'Conner and
was pleased that she drew from the U-M
legal arguments for the majority opinion.
"She talked about the educational bene-
fits and about the benefits of diversity to
business," he said. She also drew from the
amicus briefs filed in the case by corpora-
tions and the U.S. military
"She linked these things to the same
themes we were articulating — our con-
cern with leadership and citizenship in a
pluralistic society. The court recognized
that higher education is important to
provide opportunities for leadership after
graduation. The university is not just
about higher education concerns, but
societal ones.
"Jews are committed to civic and
democratic involvement," Krislov said,
"and the court's decision made clear
that those values are important for our
community and for our country as a
whole." C




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