University of Michigan's race-based admission policy upheld by 6th Circuit
May 14, 2002 6:22 PM   Subscribe

University of Michigan's race-based admission policy upheld by 6th Circuit Is this case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court? And if so, what is the likely outcome?
posted by Rastafari (13 comments total)
As a refresher, you might be interested to read, or reread, University Of California Regents v. Bakke.
posted by BlueTrain at 6:50 PM on May 14, 2002

It's probably headed for the supreme court.. I won't be so audacious as to predict what will happen at that level.

I gotta say though.. it's pretty disturbing to me.. Very disturbing, even... I probably don't know enough of the facts to run my mouth off on this particular subject, but this is basically the very misuse of affirmative action that people complain about, and defenders of aa claim doesn't happen "when it's executed properly"..

Well now someone's executing it in even what they'd say is improper.. how this got upheld is beyond me.. *sigh*
posted by twiggy at 6:50 PM on May 14, 2002

well, i can tell you from the perspective of a law student at one of the more racially diverse law schools in the country, it absolutely does make a positive difference in the quality of classroom learning. with the socratic method, the students really do as much (if not more) of the teaching then the professor does. in that context, it is invaluable to hear the perpectives of students with differing backgrounds and perspectives from the typical privileged white male perspective that still dominates in the profession of law.

Nobody really knows how the supreme court would rule on this issue, but my instinct is that they might be less conservative then one might otherwise expect given the makeup of the court. It wouldn't surprise me if it upheld the appeals court's decision.

of course, if it did overturn the decision, it would have an enormous and IMO really bad effect on higher education all over the country.
posted by boltman at 6:57 PM on May 14, 2002

Sorry, but racial discrimination is racial discrimination, and that's what this is. If we ever want to leave the past behind, we need to stop treating other ethnicities like they need an extra boost. It's patronising to one party and discriminatory to the other. I can't believe that Michigan upheld this.
posted by evanizer at 8:29 PM on May 14, 2002

They just made a major decision concerning civil liberty (the child porn thing). I wonder if that can be taken as any indicator of how they'll decide this one.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2002

If we ever want to leave the past behind, we need to stop treating other ethnicities like they need an extra boost.

Bravo. I'll certainly be glad when white people finally aren't given preferential treatment for jobs, housing, education, and even health care in this country. How come they need the extra boost? What's wrong with 'em?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:13 AM on May 15, 2002

Indeed, fold_and_mutilate, it's illegal to give whites preferential treatment for those things.
posted by bingo at 1:32 AM on May 15, 2002

I think the decision will be overturned by the Supremes (Scalia, Thomas, and Rhenquist are pretty much givens. I think Kennedy and O'Conner will side with them. Stevens, Souter, and Ginsberg are givens on the other side. The one unknown is probably Breyer). From the perspective of AA proponents, this is one of the worst test cases they could imagine. IIRC, there was a "grid" used by admissions that had undergrad GPA on one axis and LSAT on the other. The convergence would correlate to "accept" "decline" or some middle ground. Here's the kicker: there grids gave different results based on whether the applicant was white or black. You might want to read the plaintiffs' appellate brief.

By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I pretty much could claim to be a direct "victim" of this law school policy. I was rejected by UofM law school for the 1992 entering class. If you use 1995 data as representative, my place on the grid (over 3.75 GPA & between 164 and 166 on the LSAT) had 95 out of 138 whites accepted (69%), 10 out of 14 Asians accepted (71%), and 2 out of 2 African-Americans accepted (100%). Of course, you could wonder what I lacked to place me in the 31% of whites who didn't get accepted. And don't tell me I have an axe to grind -- I had the opportunity to transfer there after my first year and declined.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:23 AM on May 15, 2002

I don't pretend to know whether or not this policy is constitutional or whether it does good on balance, but I'm pretty sure that Thomas Nagel's argument showed that affirmative action is not unjust in principle: the people deprived of places do not have an indefeasible right to those places.
posted by Gaz at 8:14 AM on May 15, 2002

I agree with Nagel but notice that the argument concerns opportunity not race. I have no qualms about taking economic or social opportunity into account when evaluating an applicant - I think its fair to look at not only how far someone has come but also where they started.

Race-based admissions says that its ok for a rich black kid to get in ahead of an economically disadvantaged kid who happens to be white. This is so obviously wrong.
posted by vacapinta at 11:02 AM on May 15, 2002

Good decision.
posted by robcorr at 11:53 PM on May 15, 2002

Oh, and Pardonyou?, when you look at the samples (138 white, 14 asian, 2 black) it should become clear that comparing proportions won't necessarily be accurate.
posted by robcorr at 12:00 AM on May 16, 2002

I think the decision will be overturned by the Supremes

AA in education has always been viewed differently than in other contexts. If this were a gov't contracting policy, I have no doubt that SCOTUS would find it unconstitutional. But something tells me that Kennedy and O'Connor just might see the "compelling state interest" in ensuring both a diverse classroom experience and increasing the number of minorities in the legal profession.

But it will probably boil down to the details of the Michigan's admission process. It's possible that we could get a very narrowly-tailored ruling that would just say that Michigan's policy is bad, but leaving open the door for similar policies. Or the court might decide it doesn't want to deal with the issue at all right now and just deny certiorari.
posted by boltman at 10:43 AM on May 16, 2002

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