ADMISSIONS ON TRIAL
The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 4
By Shannon Pettypece
Daily Staff Reporter
Whether the use of race in university
admissions is right or wrong, just or
unjust, was not for the nine justices on
the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to
determine. Their job was to determine
whether or not the University's policies
are inline with the standards set by the
1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the
case of the Bakke v. University of Cali-
fornia Board of Regents - a task easi-
er said than done.
The Bakke case was the first lawsuit
challenging the use of race as a factor
in admissions that made its way
through the legal obstacle course and
into the chambers of the Supreme
Prior to Bakke, several legal chal-
lenges to the use of race in admissions
had arisen, but during the mid-70s the
Supreme Court began to take notice of
a shift in public opinion where many
American's began to feel that a form of
reverse discrimination was arising
from affirmative action policies.
The plaintiff, Allan Bakke, was a
white applicant who claimed he was
denied admission to the University of
California at Davis Medical School
while less qualified minority students
At the time Bakke was rejected, the
school reserved 16 out of 100 openings
in its medical program for minority
applicants and had a separate selection
process for minorities.
Unlike any other case questioning
the use of race in'admission, the
Supreme Court agreed to review the
The Supreme Court's decision was
that race could be used as one factor in
university admissions for the purpose
of maintaining a diverse student body.
"A state has a substantial interest
that legitimately may be served by a
properly devised admissions program
involving the competitive considera-
tion of race and ethnic origin," read
Justice Lewis Powell's opinion in the
But the decision was not as clear cut
as many would have liked because the
Supreme Court also said limitations
must be set on a university's use of race
in admissions and strict quotas were
The decision in the Bakke case
became less clear in 1980 when the
Supreme Court ruled that some quotas
were constitutional in the case of
Fullilove v. Klutznick. For example, the
court upheld a federal law stating that
15 percent of funding for public proj-
ects be reserved for minority contrac-
tors - putting a loophole in the
Supreme Court's Bakke ruling.
Many legal experts and judges are
divided over the meaning of the Bakke
decision. As a result, the 6th and 9th
Circuit Courts of Appeals have ruled in
favor of race as a factor in admissions,
while the 5th and 11th Circuit Courts
of Appeals have struck down the con-
stitutionality of race-based admissions.
The Bakke ruling weighted heavily
in the minds of the justices who ruled
in favor of the University's use of race
in admissions yesterday, according to
the opinion of the 6th Circuit.
"Because Bakke remains the law
until the Supreme Court instructs oth-
erwise, we reject the district court's
conclusion and find that the Law
School has a compelling interest in
achieving a diverse student body,"
Chief Circuit Judge Boyce Martin said
in his opinion. "Because this court is
bound by Justice Powell's Bakke opin-
ion, we find that the Law School has a
compelling state interest in achieving a
diverse student body."
The University Law School has main-
tained throughout its defense that it com-
plies with the standards set by the Bakke
case in order to maintain a diverse stu-
dent body, and the 6th Circuit recog-
nized this effort in their opinion.
"The Law -School contends that its
interest in achieving a diverse student
body is compelling under Bakke v.
Regents of the University of Califor-
nia, 438 U.S. 265, 98 S.Ct. 2733, 57
L.Ed.2d 750 (1978), and that its
admissions policy is narrowly tailored
to serve that interest," the court's
d Mfr y Vi
Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at a press conference yesterday in front of the Michigan Union after the 6th
Circuit Court of Appeals decision came down. Jackson and BAMN said they plan to continue the fight for
the University if the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal in Grutter v. Bollinger.
to celebrate reversal
regents 'ecstatic' over
6th Circuit's decision
By Maria Sprow
Daily News Editor "The University's position
By Bob Hunt
and Shabina S. Khabi
Daily Staff Reporters
To celebrate yesterday's 6th Circuit Court of
Appeals decision to uphold the University's tradi-
tion of using race as a factor in admissions, Rev-
erend Jesse Jackson joined the Coalition to Defend
Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for
Equality By Any Means Necessary at a spirited
Jackson said he admired the students for their
efforts and for hanging on to the American dream.
"I know Dr. King would be so happy today.
When young America comes alive and rejects the
dope culture and chooses the hope culture they are
in that tradition of college students that transform
the country,"he said.
One of the students honored by Jackson, BAMN
member and Rackham student Jessica Curtin said
she was proud of the integral part she and fellow
student activists played in the court's decision.
"I'm really excited because we've prevented
higher education from being segregated in four
states -- Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky. and Tennessee
students did what everyone said cannot be done,"
she said. "Racist inequality structures this society
from education to the workplace to housing. If
there is to be any integration, we have to have affir-
While protesting the decision before the press
conference, LSA senior James Justin Wilson, a
member of the Young Americans for Freedom, said
he believed BAMN had nothing to do with the
"I give BAMN zero credit. The judges said they
were insulted by (BAMN's) petition. The justices
cannot be scared by people who run militant social-
ist movements," Wilson said.
But Shanta Driver, BAMN's national legal coor-
dinator, said the only judge who was insulted by the
petition ruled against affirmative action.
Jackson added that activism has always played
an important role in the judicial system.
"The court is not oblivious to public opinion. In
a democracy, public opinion matters,"he said.
One unique aspect of the University trials is that
Grutter vs. Bollinger is the only case in which stu-
dent interveners have put on a full case at trial.
Miranda Massie, lead counsel for the student inter-
veners, said yesterday's court ruling was a direct
result of the students' case.
"The opinion of the 6th Circuit Court of
Appeals is a spectacular and historic victory for the
student interveners and even more important, for
the movement they are building," she said. "It was
the student movement that took us this far and it is
the student movement that will win us victory in
the US. Supreme Court."
Though pleased with the decision, Jackson and
the students went on to say that they plan to contin-
ue their fight for racial equality by expanding their
new civil rights movement.
LSA senior and BAMN member Agnes Aleboua
said the group plans to take the next step at a
national conference to be held at the Law School
on May 31. "This is where we're going to decide
how we're going to move forward, to prepare for
D.C., how to mobilize a national march on the capi-
tal, how to get to the schools across the country,"
Jackson ended the conference by encouraging
the masses to participate in the "new civil rights
movement" and to remember that the court's deci-
sion to allow race as a factor in admissions policies
is a step in the right direction.
"(Affirmative action) does not have to negate
white because it affirms all of us. We did not know
how good baseball could be until everybody could
play," he said.
The atmosphere in the Fleming Administra-
tion Building yesterday was, to say the least,
not the normal business-as-usual scene asso-
ciated with day-to-day affairs.
After the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
announced its decision ruling in favor of the
Law School's admissions policies early yes-
terday morning, the building filled with posi-
tive reactions from University administrators.
"We're just excited, and we're pleased.
We're estatic," University spokeswoman Julie
"There is a lot of work that went into these
cases over many years, and obviously we've
got a lot of work still ahead of us. This is a
big deal today. This feels like an historic
moment," she added.
Most administrators said they felt the court
made the proper decision based on the evi-
dence presented to it and that the decision
was a great victory not just for the University,
but for higher education in general.
"Our commitment to diversity is total and
unswerving," said Regent Lawrence Deitch
(D-Bingham Farms), adding that he believes
the affirmative action policy is needed to
maintain a diverse student body and because
having a diverse student body is one of the
main goals at the University.
"There are lots of other ways to achieve the
goal, but we think this is the best way," he
Most administrators said they were pleased
but not shocked by the ruling, though some
admitted they were slightly surprised that the
court's decision involving the University's
undergraduate admissions policies were not
also announced yesterday.
"It's the best news I've had in a long time,"
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
for Academic Affairs Paul Courant said. "The
University's position is right. ... I tend to be
an optimist and so I'm not surprised when
things come out right."
Courant stressed that he is most pleased
with the significance behind the judges' deci-
sion and what that decision means.
"The decision allows us to continue doing
what we have been doing," he said. "It's very
gratifying that all the hard work that every-
body has put into this has paid tff, but what
matters most is the result. I am very gratified
by the result."
The court's decision, administrators said,
not only confirmed that the admission's poli-
cies are constitutional and legal, but helped to
reaffirm the mission of the University to
bring the best quality education to its stu-
"We're especially pleased that the court
realized that diversity brings educational ben-
is right.... I tend to be an
optimist and so I'm not
surprised when things
come out right"
- Paul Courant
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
of Academic Affairs
efit to all students and is essential to educa-
tional quality," Assistant General Counsel
Jonathan Alger said.
The University has maintained for years
that diversity contributes to the quality of
education students receive because it allows
them to have experiences and gain knowledge
that would not be available if they did not
share interactions with people of different
races and backgrounds.
Diversity "enables us to have an education
that works for the world around us, the world
that we live in," Courant said.
In his general letter to the University writ-
ten at the beginning of his term, Interim Pres-
ident B. Joseph White listed diversity and
affirmative action as key initiatives, along
with the life sciences and the continuous
improvement of undergraduate education.
"We take many factors into account in
making our admissions decisions," White said
"I think our ability to take race into
account is an important way to ensure that we
have a high-quality student body and that's
what was confirmed today," he added.
But not all administrators are in favor of the
University's race-based affirmative policies.
In a strongly-worded letter sent Feb. 16 to
Regent Kathy White (D-Ann Arbor) that was
later retracted, fellow Regent Daniel Horning
(R-Grand Haven) expressed his disdain for
the University's race-conscious admissions
process because of its preference toward
black and minority students.
"As a republican regent I have had the
painstaking task of articulating our defense of
affirmative action lawsuit and the millions of
dollars we are spending on its behalf" Horn-
"I have openly defended the importance of
a diverse student body, yet privately I have
held to my chest that I don't think our admis-
sions policies will withstand this legal chal-
lenge, and I certainly don't feel they are
based on merit," the letter continued.
Horning refused to comment Tuesday on
the court's decision.
Admissions lawsuits filled
with numerous key payers
Pondering the future
By Shannon Pettyploco
Daily Staff Reporter
After two opposing verdicts by two
separate courts, the University continues
to defend its use of race in admissions,
which began in October 1997 when Jen-
nifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher, two
rejected LSA applicants, sued the Col-
lege of Literature, Science and the Arts
regarding its undergraduate admissions
Several months later, another lawsuit
was filed against the Law School by
Barbara Grutter, who claimed she was
denied admission to the Law School
while less qualified minority applicants
Both of the cases against the Univer-
sity are being represented by the Center
for Individual Rights, which has also
represented plaintiffs in several other
cases against university's with race-
based admissions policies.
Throughout the legal battle, the Uni-
versity has maintained that using race as
a factor in admissions enhances the
learning environment, but CIR claims
the University's policies are unconstitu-
tional and discriminates against white
According to CIR, Gratz graduated
form Southgate Anderson High School
with a 3.765 GPA and a score of 25 on
her Academic Comprehension Test. She
was also active in student government
and varsity cheerleading.
Although Gratz was rejected from the
University's Ann Arbor campus, she
enrolled in courses at the University's
Dearborn Campus. CIR said she would
not like to transfer, but does want to see
the University's policies changed.
Hamacher attended Luke Powers
Catholic High School in Flint, held a
3.373 GPA and scored a 28 on his ACT.
In high school, he was the starting cen-
ter on this football team, a varsity catch-
er, active in the Quiz Bowl team and a
hospice volunteer, according to CIR.
After being rejected from the Univer-
sity, Hamacher enrolled at Michigan
State University and is a member of the
basketball team. CIR said Hamacher
would like to transfer to Michigan if
given the opportunity.
" A third party, the interveners, is also
involved in both cases. The interveners
represent minority high school students
who plan on applying to the University.
But unlike the University, the interven-
ers believe race should remain a factor
as a way to remedy past discriminations.
The interveners are comprised of
minority high school students and their
parents, Citizens for Affirmative
Action's Preservation, the National
Association for the Advancement of
Colored People, the American Civil Lib-
erties Union Fund of Michigan and the
Mexican American Legal Defense and
Although the trial court rejected the
interveners' motion to participate, the
6th Circuit overruled that decision.
The final groups trying to influence
the court's dec'sion are the dozens of
companies and organizations that have
filed amicus briefs with the court. These
supporters of diversity in education and
the workplace include General Motors,
33 Fortune 500 companies, the Ameri-
can Bar Association, United Auto Work-
ers and the American Council on
In December 2001, an opinion by
U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan was
made in the case of Gratz v. Bollinger
ruling in favor of LSA admissions poli-
cies. It stated that the University had
"solid evidence regarding the education-
al benefits that flow from a racially and
ethnically diverse student body." But in
March 2001, the University suffered a
"total loss" when U.S. District Judge
Bernard Friedman ruled against the Law
School's admissions policies in the case
of Grutter v. Bollinger.
While Judge Duggan's opinion stated
that diversity is a compelling state inter-
est and that the University meets the
standards set by the US Supreme Court
decision in Bakke v. University of Cali-
fornia Board of Regents in 1978, Judge
Friedman's opinion stated that the use of
race in admissions is unconstitutional
and that the Law School's policies put
too much emphasis on race.
Both sides appealed the decision to
the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals; oral
arguments began in December 2001.
Law student Neil Jakobe studies in the Law Ubrary while many professors and
students celebrated the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision.
Continued from Page 1.
case, the next question becomes whether they will
decide to follow the precedent set in the 1978 case
Bakke v. University of California Board of Regents,
in which the judges ruled that race-based admis-
sions is constitutional, or whether or not they will
facilities in the 5th and 1lth Circuits to once again
consider race when accepting applicants.
Whatever decision is made, legal experts said
they predict another split decision.
"I think it will be a 5-4 split in the Supreme
Court as well because the Court is very closely
divided on the issue of affirmative action," George-
town University Prof. Susan Low Bloch said. She
ber 13, 1999 in favor of the undergraduate policies.
The lawsuits against the Law School had no such
"I'm not going to worry," University Provost and
Executive Vice President Academic Affairs Paul
Courant said. "I think that the court's finding in this
case is a very hopeful sign for the undergraduate
to admitting students is precisely tailored. We can't
predict yet how the 6th Circuit will decide. It is
possible that the 6th Circuit could hold that the
undergraduate program is not precisely tailored."
The major difference between the Law
School's policies and those used to admit students
to LSA is that fewer people apply to the Law
School, University General Counsel Marvin
Continued from Page 1
needs to be addressed in high
"There's no reason at the graduate
level," Duran said.
He added that undergraduate