A host of organizations representing a variety of public and private institutions filed briefs last week in support of the University Law School”s defense of its race-conscious admissions policies.

More than 80 groups including the General Motors Corp., the American Bar Association and the National Organization for Women (NOW) Legal Defense Fund filed individual and joint amicus curiae briefs supporting the University. Amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” briefs, allow third parties to voice their input on how a case is relevant to them.

“It shows the court that there is support in a variety of sectors of society for the kind of policies we have,” said University Deputy General Counsel Liz Barry.

The amicus briefs present the court with different perspective on the impact of race-conscious admissions policies in higher education and illustrate these policies have bearing beyond the University, she said.

“Business understands that in order to stay competitive you have to maintain a diverse work force,” she said.

In its amicus brief, GM stated it supports the University Law School”s admissions policies because diversity in higher education teaches students skills needed to work in an increasingly diverse world. Not only is the United States itself becoming more diverse, but GM”s interests in foreign markets require its employees to be familiar with racial, ethnic and cultural differences, the brief said.

“(T)he Nation”s interest in safeguarding the freedom of academic institutions to select racially and ethnically diverse student bodies is indeed compelling: the future of American business and, in some measure, of the American economy depends upon it,” the brief read.

Law School Dean Jeffrey Lehman said in a statement the ABA”s amicus brief was important.

“Typically, the ABA files in the court likely to be the last venue for a matter. While there is a strong likelihood the Supreme Court will ultimately take this case, the Association filed here because of the critical importance to the profession and the nation of preserving diversity in law schools,” Lehman said.

Barry attached significance to the fact that the NOW Legal Defense Fund and two Asian Pacific American legal entities filed amicus briefs supporting the University because opponents of race-conscious admissions policies have argued that the policies have negative implications for women and Asian Americans.

Vincent Eng, legal director of the National Asian/Pacific American Legal Consortium, said the organization supports the University because the plaintiff did not accurately represent the socioeconomic status of Asian/Pacific Americans. He said Asian/Pacific Americans are underrepresented in the legal field and still face discrimination and negative stereotypes.

Four groups including the National Association of Scholars and the Pacific Legal Foundation submitted amicus curiae briefs to the court in support of the Center for Individual Rights, which filed the suit against the Law School.

Curt Levey, director of legal and public affairs for CIR, said he doubted the overall impact of the amicus briefs on the outcome of the case.

“In the end I don”t think it has much affect on the judges,” Levy said. “You don”t win because you have big names on your side. You win because the law is on your side.”

The case is expected to be heard by the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati this fall.

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