"This is a great day for the University of Michigan and for all of higher education, as well as for the numerous corporations, educational groups and others who filed amicus briefs in support of the University," said Interim U-M President B. Joseph White of the decision. "I am pleased that the court recognized that diversity brings educational benefits to all students. This is part of the University's historic and significant commitment to diversity in all its facets, and today's decision reaffirms our community's long-standing values. We must prepare our students to learn and to lead in the world's most diverse democracy."
The decision found that the Law School admissions policy was constitutional under guidelines established by the Supreme Court in its 1978 Bakke decision. The full decision of the case, Grutter v. Bollinger, can be found on the web at http://www.umich.edu/~urel/admissions/legal/grutter/gru-ap-op.html
The court noted that the Law School admissions policy, adopted by the faculty in 1992, is "virtually indistinguishable" from the Harvard Plan held out as a model in the Bakke decision. The court found that U-M considers each applicant as an individual in making admissions decisions, and does not shield any applicant from competing with the rest of the applicant pool.
"The record demonstrates that the Law School does not employ a quota for underrepresented minority students," the majority opinion stated. "Essentially, both the Law School's admission policy and the Harvard Plan attend to the numbers of underrepresented minority students to ensure that all students-minority and majority alike-will be able to enjoy the benefits of an academically diverse student body."
The decision reversed the finding by a federal district court judge in March 2001 that the Law School's affirmative action admissions program was illegal.
In the main dissenting opinion, Judge Danny Boggs argued that a governmental policy to "arrange social outcomes proportionally according to the race or ethnicity of citizens, remedying, where it can, any pervasive unequal distribution of wealth, education or status" might be proper for a number of countries, but "so long as the Equal Protection Clause is a part of the United States Constitution, the United States is not one of those countries." More >>