ADMISSIONS LAWSUITS The Michigan Daily -O
The road to the Supreme Court,
rientation Edition, 2003 -3
By Andrew Kaplan
and Emily Kraack
April 02, 2003
action when the predominant ethos is
against you takes a lot of balls," said
Michigan Review Editor in Chief James
Justin Wilson, who camped outside the
WASHINGTON - There is a junc- courthouse for two nights in order to see
ture on Interstate 495 where roads the arguments. "The very nature of con-
from New York, Philadelphia, Pitts- servatism is to keep your mouth shut."
burgh and Virginia converge, funnel- Apart from staffers of various campus
ing motorists into the heart of publications, no other University stu-
Washington. As dawn broke over the dents attempted to gain admission to the
Maryland foothills yesterday morning, courtroom by weathering the cold.
this highway was alive with caravans "You can't show these numbers
of buses leading students from Michi- in the courtroom," LSA sopho-
gan, Illinois, Ohio and New York to more Nathan Cohen said, refer-
rally in front of the Supreme Court. ring to the thousands of 400
While the Supreme Court justices protesters at the rallies. "I did
picked apart the University's admis- the courtroom thing in high school.
sions system, University students It was like, we all crammed into the
joined with several thousand activists courtroom, taking up space of peo-
in support of the race-conscious poli- ple who were more interested."
cies. Many protesters said they thought During BAMN's midday rally at
their actions will convince the justices the Lincoln Memorial, several stu-
to rule in favor of the policies. dents and social action moguls gave
"They'll be watching this, their chil- speeches advocating race-conscious
dren will watch this," said Education admissions. As planes heading
senior Agnes Aleobua, a member of the toward Washington's Ronald Rea-
Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action gan National Airport clipped the
and Integration and Fight for Equality sky above the Reflecting Pool, stu-
By Any Means Necessary. "They're dents carrying signs and sporting
human. They'll be affected by it" BAMN T-shirts gathered on the
Law School student Tracy Thomas memorial steps by the thousands to
rode to Washington on one of six buses listen and to cheer.
carrying University members of Stu- Although protesters said the Uni-
dents Supporting Affirmative Action. versity's admissions policies were
She said the demonstrations build public the impetus behind the rallies, they
support for diversity. added that the outcome of
"Just the march and people show- the lawsuits will have
ing how they feel about affirmative far-reaching resonance.
action - it has an impact on public "I have a younger
opinion, showing how you feel," brother, he's
Thomas said. "I want people to
have the opportunity (for higher
education), and it's important that
we are a racially diverse
In addition to
the buses spon-
sored by SSAA .
and BAMN, the
Michigan Stu- P
sponsored and '
chaper oned d
six bus es frnigF
the overnigh .: s j F L
trip to Washing-
ton. Unlike the
MSA called its y
partisan - meaning that both
students supporting and opposing
University admissions policies were A protesterstands outside of the Union
welcome to board them. during a BAMN rally on Dec. 12, 2002.
"MSA gave money so that all stu-
dents, regardless of political affiliation, 14," said LSA junior Brandis Tay-
could participate," Pete Woiwode, lor, an SSAA member. "In all hon-
SSAA organizer, said. Nearly 700 stu- esty, I'm doing this for him. I feel
dents raced to claim seats on the MSA like I have a duty to him."
and SSAA buses, he added. "The fact is, none of us has ever
"The list took basically no time at all wanted race to be a factor in socie-
to fill," he said. "Hours after the sign- ty," former Michigan 36th District
ups opened, they were already filled." Court Judge Greg Mathis said.
But Woiwode said although he invit- "I am one judge who is not afraid
ed all MSA affiliates to the rally, mainly of admitting I benefited from affir-
advocates of the race-conscious admis- mative action."
sions rode the buses to Washington. As "Ultimately, most people agree that
the rally gained strength, students diversity is important," Rackham stu-
protesting race-conscious admissions dent Neali Hendrix said. "A diverse
were conspicuously absent. student body brings diverse experi-
"Saying you're against affirmative ences and breeds new ideas."
By Soojung Chang, Victoria Edwards, therefore unconstitutional, Powell said.
and Andrew McCormack He added that any system using racial
April 1, 2003 preference is "inherently suspect," and
must be reviewed carefully.
Homer Plessy - jailed in 1892 for The University of Michigan began
refusing to move to a black railroad car considering race in its admissions even
- sued the state of Louisiana in 1896, before the Bakke ruling, but its legal
claiming that to segregate violated the battle to defend the policies began in
13th and 14th amendments. The court 1997 with a challenge from the Center
decided against him in the infamous for Individual Rights. The Washington-
"separate but equal" ruling, establishing based firm sued on behalf of Jennifer
a precedent that races could be divided Gratz and Patrick Hamacher - who
.FROM PESS TO GRATZ
socially but still be treated the same. were denied admission to the College
The legal debate that began so long of Literature, Science and the Arts -
ago with a man who did not find equal- and Barbara Grutter, who was not
ity in separation will soon enter its next acceptedto the Law School.
chapter in the annals of American law A third party entered the case in
when the nation's highest court rules in August 1999 when several groups filed
the University's cases Gratz v. a motionto take part in the cases. These
Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger. The intervenors included such groups as the
precedent for these cases, however, is a National Association for the Advance-
far more complicated matter ment of Colored People Legal Defense
Plessy v Ferguson established a poli- and Educational Fund and the Amen-
cy of de jure - or legally mandated - can Civil Liberties Union.
segregation that persisted until the The University defended its policies
court reevaluated the issue in 1954, on the grounds that they created a
after Linda Brown was barred from diverse student body, which in turn
attending a white elementary school. improved the learning environment of
The court struck this down in Brown all its students. The intervenors took a
v Board of Education, deciding that it is different stand, arguing that the consid-
inherently unequal and therefore uncon- eration of race was necessary to offset
stitutional. The debate over putting inte- wrongs from racial discrimination.
gration into practice, however, was just In December 2000, a federal court
begmning. The University of California at judge upheld the University's under-
Davis began using a racial quota system graduate admissions program. U.S.
in its medical school admissions in District Court Judge Patrick Duggan
versity of California v Bakke."
But Duggan also ruled that the Uni-
versity's grid system, formerly used to
evaluate applicants, was unconstitu-
tional. But by then, the University had
changed to its current point system -
assigning 20 points out of 150 to His-
panics, blacks and Native Americans -
which Duggan ruled permissible.
Duggan also ruled that using race in
admissions to remedy past discrimina-
tion was not justified, although using it
in the interest of diversity was.
Buta few months later, the Universi-
ty suffered a defeat when U.S. District
Court Judge Bernard Friedman said
colleges and universities may not use
race in admissions. Both cases went on
to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of
Appeals, which overturned Friedman's
ruling on the Law School case in a 5-4
decision in May 2002. The court never
ruled on the undergraduate case.
the decisions to
A protester supports the University on Dec. 6, 2001 in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
heard arguments in two lawsuits regarding the University's admissions policies.