December 3, 2002
@2002 The Michigan Daily
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Vol. CXIII, No. 60
One-hundred-twelve years of editorialfreedom
day, with clouds - 24
developing in LOW: 14
the later hours.
By Megan Hayes
and Jordan Schrader
Daily Staff Reporters
A new national precedent clarifying the
use of race-conscious admissions policies
is forthcoming, with the U.S. Supreme
Court set to hear oral arguments for both
lawsuits filed against the University's
admissions policies next spring.
The Court's decision will mark an end
to five years of legal wrangling over the
University's admissions policies and
resolve conflicting opinions issued in the
nation's lower courts.
"We are ready to defend ourselves vigorous-
ly," University President Mary Sue Coleman
said after the Court yesterday announced its
decision yesterday to hear the cases.
The University was sued in 1997 by two
white applicants, Barbara Grutter and Jen-
nifer Gratz, who were denied admission to
the Law School and the College of Litera-
ture, Science and the Arts, respectively.
The plaintiffs claim they were rejected
from the University while less qualified
minority applicants were admitted.
The Supreme Court will hear both the
Law School and undergraduate admissions
cases although the 6th Circuit Court of
Appeals has yet to rule on the undergradu-
The 6th Circuit upheld the University's
Law School admissions policies in a deci-
sion in May.
Despite previously asking the Supreme
Court not to hear the cases, University
officials said they were optimistic about
the chances for a favorable Court ruling.
The decision comes as little surprise,
University Assistant General Counsel
Jonathan Alger said.
"All along we have developed our legal
strategy with this possibility in mind,"
Alger said. "We do believe we have very
strong cases here - we are ready to go."
The Center for Individual Rights, a
Washington-based law firm, represents the
plaintiffs in both cases.
CIR attorney Larry Purdy said they wel-
come a new Supreme Court standard on
the use of race in admissions that will
affect the entire nation.
"I would hope that they'll agree unani-
mously that the use of race and the manner
in which the University uses it is inappro-
priate and wrong," Purdy said. "Such a rul-
ing, particularly a unanimous ruling in
that regard, would be ... wonderful for
every student of every race."
Purdy said he was always confident the
Supreme Court would hear the admissions
cases given the division between the lower
courts that have ruled on cases challeng-
ing the admissions policies of other public
"These are clear splits in the approaches
taken, and that is one reason the Supreme
Court will step in to resolve these cases,"
While it is rare for the Court to hear a
case not yet ruled on by a federal appeals
court, it chose to hear Gratz v. Bollinger
because it parallels and supports Grutter
v. Bollinger, Wayne State University law
Prof. Robert Sedler said.
"The Court wants to make clear that its
decision will not be limited to law
schools," he said.
A group of intervenors representing the
interests of minority high school students
who they claim would be denied admis-
sion if the University's policies changed,
also defend the use of race in admissions,
but for different reasons.
They will argue before the Supreme
Court that societal discrimination can be
remedied only by admissions policies that
take race into account.
"Michigan currently has policies which,
without affirmative action, would have a
discriminatory effect on minorities," said
Ted Shaw, lead attorney for the inter-
venors in the undergraduate case.
"This is a question of whether we'll
See DECISION, Page 7
importance of Court's decision
By Megan Hayes
and Jordan Schrader
Daily Staff Reporters
Both the man named as the primary
defendant in the law-
suits challenging the
University's admissions .
policies and the woman
who replaced him as "
said the Supreme
Court's decision to hear
the cases presents an
historic occasion to set
"This is a classic Bollinger
example of the Supreme Court recognizing
that its voice is critical to the issue," former
University President Lee Bollinger told
The Michigan Daily just minutes after the
Supreme Court announced it would hear
the University's admissions cases. "I am
extremely hopeful that this will keep us on
the course that America
has been committed to
since (Brown v. Board
Bollinger was the sit-
ting president when the
lawsuits were first filed,
and although he left the
University to take over as
president of Columbia
-University, he is still very
Coleman involved in the cases.
University officials said they have always
been aware that their legal battles could cul-
minate in arguments before the nation's high-
"We knew this was a likely outcome
because of the importance of the cases," Cole-
In order to preserve the victory it gained
with lower court decisions, the University
asked the Supreme Court not to hear the cases
against its Law School and undergraduate
Bollinger said the University's legal team
had good reason to oppose a Supreme
Court decision to hear the case because it
is their responsibility to preserve the Uni-
versity's victories in the lower courts. But
he added that given the national scope of
the issue he is glad the Court will be hear-
ing the cases.
See PRESIDENTS, Page 3
Photo illustration by JONATHON TRIEST/Daily
Justices maybe ivideon issue
By Megan Hayes "The most important vote will come from
Daily StaffReporter 0O'Connor," he said. "She has been unwill-
Although there will be no glitz and
glamour to the upcoming Supreme Court
proceedings, the fate of the University's
use of race as one factor in admissions will
likely be greatly affected by the heated
debate that has ensued over the legitimacy
of affirmative action.
"All cert decisions are political," said
Duke University law Prof. Jerome Culp.
He said Chief Justice William Rehnquist
has been one of the leading opponents of
affirmative action, and his rumored retire-
ment in June may have influenced his desire
to have this case argued in front of him.
"I can imagine that he might see ending
affirmative action ... as a wonderful swan
song to his judicial career," he said.
Culp said Rehnquist is one of three anti-
affirmative action justices. The other two
are Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin
as swing votes iv debate
Scalia. He added that none of these justices
will be willing to shift their stance in the
"They've built their careers on running
against affirmative action," he said. "I don't
think there's any question they will change
He said Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens
have been strong supporters of affirma-
But he said it is not clear whether the
three votes in support of affirmative
action will hold.
That leaves Sandra Day O'Connor,
Anthony Kennedy and David Souter, who
will most likely be the swing votes and
determine the fate of diversity in higher
"The question is where will Kennedy
and O'Connor come down," Culp said,
adding that Kennedy has also been a per-
son who could change his vote for prag-
Supreme Court expert Henry Abraham,
professor emeritus of government and for-
eign affairs at the University of Virginia,
said past Supreme Court decisions lead him
to believe that when the issue is resolved, it
will be by a divided Court.
ing to permit the concept of affirmative
action as applied to race when it becomes
the controlling factor - if race is consid-
ered (she has said) it must be one of many
Some legal experts say that each side
may try to word its arguments toward
O'Connor, emphasizing the cautious
approach they are taking.
"What she likes is the center, moder-
ately conservative," experts said. "It's
safe to say that any lawyer appealing to
O'Connor will present its side as cau-
tious and moderate."
"The Supreme Court has held that race
could be a consideration, but only one of
many other factors," Abraham said.
He said the Court is extremely reluctant
to overrule past precedent, but it has been
done. The only case the Court has ruled on
See COURT, Page 7
CHECK INSIDE FOR MORE ON
THE UNIVERSITY' S OtSt35
Road to thie ON fIAL',
Campus responds Page 2
The student body reacts to the
Supreme Court's decision, including
coverage of BAMN's press conference.
U Higher educational institutions nation-
wide will look to the Court's decision for
the future of race as a factor in admissions
What lies ahead Page 3
* Analysts and University administrators
discuss what the Court's decision means
for admissions policies and the 'U.'
L l G11 ) tt. G'6 I.Att