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February 24, 2003
Volume 81, Number 8
CENEAR 81 8 p. 7
ISSN 0009-2347


Flood of amicus briefs supports Michigan's race-conscious policies


A virtual who's who of U.S. institutions of science and engineering have signed on to or filed amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," briefs with the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan, which is defending its use of race as a factor in admissions. The high court is expected to hear arguments in the cases this spring.

The two lawsuits against the University of Michigan and key administrators were originally filed in lower courts in Michigan in 1997. One lawsuit challenges the use of race as a factor in the university's undergraduate admissions process; the other, in its law school admissions process.

One brief that was announced last week was filed on behalf of the University of Michigan by MIT and signed by Stanford University, DuPont, IBM, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering. Altogether, some 300 organizations, including more than 60 U.S. businesses--many of them chemical or pharmaceutical businesses--have signed amicus briefs in support of the university.

Private universities fully share the interests of the University of Michigan in this case, said MIT President Charles M. Vest when announcing the amicus brief. "We make difficult, subjective choices from among those applicants who crossed the high bar by assessing as best we can the whole person. Race is one of many factors considered at this stage."

If the Supreme Court overturns its 1978 decision allowing public institutions to use race as a factor in competitive review processes, the results will be devastating, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman said last week in a speech in Washington, D.C.

"I fear that selective universities in most parts of the country would resegregate," Coleman said. "The most highly selective professional schools would lose decades of progress in educating more racially diverse ranks of doctors, lawyers, and CEOs."


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Copyright © 2003 American Chemical Society

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