Law students across the country are arguing that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the Law School’s admissions policy will adversely affect the racial composition of America’s lawyers.
The students will join about 300 national organizations and corporations by filing amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs with the court today supporting the University in Grutter v. Bollinger, the lawsuit challenging the Law School’s use of race as a factor in admissions.
A brief written by a group of black law students from Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities argues if the court overturns Michigan’s admissions policies, race-conscious admissions policies of their law schools would also be targeted.
Travis LeBlanc, a Yale law student, said the presence of minorities at highly selective law schools would “dramatically decrease” if present admissions policies were overturned.
But since schools like Harvard Law School serve as gateways for the nation’s top legal positions, more minorities would be restricted from pursuing elite careers, LeBlanc said.
“If you look at the Supreme Court, eight out of nine justices went to Harvard, Yale or Stanford,” he said. “If you cut off minorities from these three law schools, you effectively impose a glass ceiling on them.”
Harvard law student Danielle Gray said the brief presented empirical evidence ana lyzing the consequences of the repeal of race-conscious admissions policies used by the University of California and the University of Texas.
The brief argues that enrollment of minority students at Harvard, Stanford or Yale “would drop precipitously to 1.2 percent” if these schools reform their admissions policies, Gray said.
LeBlanc said, “At the top levels, our argument is that minorities would be all but absent.”
Though it is one of about 60 briefs expected to be filed today, the law students’ brief could receive special attention because eight of the Supreme Court justices attended one of the three schools represented by the students. Other law students filing briefs with the court argue minority communities would be drastically affected by a ruling overturning the University’s admissions policies.
Samantha Adams, a University of New Mexico law student, said minorities return to service their respective communities after graduating from law school. She added many Native Americans also depend on UNM’s race-conscious admissions policies because UNM has the state’s only law school.
If the Supreme Court rules against the use of race as an admissions factor, “New Mexico itself would be handicapped in its ability to provide legal services to its minority community,” Adams said.
Admissions officers at UNM are concerned about the ramifications such a ruling would have on their school’s admissions policies, Adams said. “A disfavorable Grutter ruling would directly impact our admissions process,” she said. “If we’re not allowed to use race-segregated admissions, the racial composition of the state bar will be dramatically affected.”
A group of University of Michigan law students are also expected to file a brief today, but a spokesperson for the group could not be reached for comment last night.