Monday, June 23, 2003

Well the Supreme Court issued the long awaited and much anticipated decisions in the Michigan Law School case and the Michigan undergraduate admission case.

  • Washington Post

  • In both cases, the Court determined that the States have a Compelling interest in promoting diversity but struck down the points system used by Michigan's undergraduate school. The Court ruled that the "Critical Mass" approach used by the Law School was Narrowly Tailored sufficiently enough to promote the compelling States interest in promoting diversity.
    In Justice O'Connor's opinion, she cites the Appellant's belief by stating that the objective of the school was to "achieve that diversity which has the potential to enrich everyone's education and thus
    make a law school class stronger than the sum of its parts." Justice O'Connor goes on to cite the brief by stating, the policy does, however, reaffirm the Law School's long-standing commitment to one particular type of diversity, that is, racial and ethnic diversity with special reference to the inclusion of students from groups which have been historically discriminated against, like African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, who without this commitment might not be represented in our student body in meaningful numbers. By enrolling a "critical mass" of [underrepresented] minority students, the Law School seeks to ensure their ability to make unique contributions to the character of the Law School."
  • Law School Decision

  • The question remains, however, in what way will this "critical mass" approach to racial diversity manifest itself in other institutions. Since the points system was determined not to be Narrowly tailored, is seems quite evident that this is not the end of litigation on this subject. There will most like be subsequent litigation and decisions of the Supreme Court to define and set the outer limits to what can constitute a "critical mass" and what methods can be used to achieve such a "critical Mass." As a side note, I wonder if Justice O'Connor will retire soon, using this decision as a legacy?