Reports suggest that the decision from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the University”s use of race as a factor in admissions may come down sooner than expected.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said she believes decisions in the appeals of Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, filed by the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, could be announced within the next four to six weeks.

The suits challenge the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and the Law School”s admissions policies. In both cases, the plaintiffs argued they were denied admission to the University because of their race.

Oral arguments for the appeals ended on Dec. 6. Now, a panel of nine judges are reviewing material and discussing a verdict.

“Litigation takes a long time and it”s on a time table that is sort of foreign to our current day pace, and we are just in the period now of waiting for the court to rule,” said Liz Barry deputy general council for the University.

After a decision is passed down, the next step for the University is uncertain because there are a number of factors affecting both sides” decision to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“The only thing that is definite is that the University is absolutely committed to a diverse student body. What we do in response to a decision is going to depend on how the 6th Circuit rules,” Barry said. “I have no doubt that the University will pursue its litigation to maintain its policy we are absolutely committed to winning this fight.”

Curt Levey, director of legal and public affairs for CIR, said he believes the University may not appeal an anti-affirmative action verdict because of pressure from outside groups.

“If you look at the history of affirmative action cases when the pro-affirmative action side loses, there is a lot of pressure on them from the civil right groups not to appeal,” Levey said.

“There may be a lot of pressure on them not to do any more damage,” he added.

Even if one side chooses to appeal, it is uncertain whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear the cases.

“It certainly isn”t definite that the side that loses will appeal and it isn”t definite that the Supreme Court will take it,” Levey said. “I think in this case it is a 50-50 thing.”

“We”re probably more likely to appeal than the University,” he added.

When the University of Texas dropped its affirmative action lawsuit, Michigan became the last institution still defending the law, which allows public universities to use race as a factor in admissions making the University”s appeal the final battle for those trying to eliminate affirmative action in public universities.

“The Michigan case is the only channel they have felt in the pipeline to try and change the law,” Barry said.

Typically, most lawsuits are settled through negotiations before they move to the Supreme Court. But both sides believe it is unlikely that they will reach an agreement regardless of the court”s verdict.

“I think it is very clear that there are strongly held principles on both side of the case. We believe that diversity in education is critical to our mission, and they believe that the constitution doesn”t permit us to follow our admission policy, so there really aren”t any grounds for compromise,” Barry said.

The University”s admissions policies at the LSA level were ruled constitutional in Dec. 2000, but the Law School admissions policies were not.

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