Supreme Court Decision
December 2, 2002
Today the Supreme Court announced that it will hear both of our affirmative action lawsuits, Grutter v. Bollinger involving law school admissions and Gratz v. Bollinger involving undergraduate admissions.
We are ready to defend these cases before the Supreme Court and believe this is a moment of great importance in our nation's history. The decisions will have a profound impact on our higher education system, affecting both public and private universities.
When the Supreme Court hears these cases in March or April, it will have the opportunity to reaffirm its landmark 1978 decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Universities have relied upon that decision for the past quarter-century, and it has worked well in guiding their admissions policies. Race is among the factors considered by virtually every selective college and university in the country.
In building our cases, we have presented convincing evidence of the educational importance of diversity. The research demonstrates that learning in a diverse environment benefits all students, regardless of race. This evidence sets our cases apart from others.
We must be able to assemble a diverse student body if we are to create the best possible educational environment. It is the only way we can prepare students to live and work effectively in our diverse democracy and in the global economy. What's at stake is the quality of our American higher education system. Our universities are widely perceived as the best in the world, and their diversity is one of their outstanding strengths.
Our admissions policies have been carefully and thoughtfully designed, and are based upon a great deal of research as well as our understanding as educators of our students and their contributions to our learning community. There is no effective substitute for the consideration of race as one of many factors in our admissions process. Other methods do not allow us to recruit a diverse student body while maintaining our consistently high academic standards.
It is important to remind ourselves that we have already won important victories in both the Law School and the undergraduate admissions cases. The district court judge in Gratz and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Grutter ruled that our policies are fair and legal under the Constitution. We look forward to presenting our cases to the Supreme Court this spring and believe we will prevail.
Mary Sue Coleman
President, University of Michigan