Observers concerned about the future of race in college admissions will be scrutinizing the docket the U.S. Supreme Court releases today.
The court will likely announce soon whether it will hear arguments in one or both of the cases challenging the University’s admissions policies.
Larry Purdy, who represents the plaintiffs in the cases, said the justices probably decided last week whether to hear the appeals, making an announcement today likely.
“We know that the court was supposed to take up the cases in conference last Wednesday,” Purdy said.
Purdy’s Minneapolis-based firm of Maslon, Edelman, Borman and Brand works on the cases with the Center for Individual Rights, a law firm in Washington. The plaintiffs’ lawyers asked the Supreme Court in August to grant cert, or hear appeals.
The court could decide to hear either the case against the University Law School, whose policies were upheld in May by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, or the LSA case still pending in the 6th Circuit, or both cases.
Purdy said the court needs to weigh in on University admissions to resolve conflicting decisions around the country concerning policies of the universities of Texas, Georgia and Washington. A decision by the Supreme Court could set a new standard for higher education admissions around the country to follow.
“There is clearly a split in the circuits, and the court needs to be rectify that,” he said.
The University contends that its policies are modeled after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1978 decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, which allows race as one factor in admissions. The University asked the Supreme Court to let the lower court decisions stand by refusing to hear appeals.
In the suit filed against the Law School by Barbara Grutter, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision and declared diversity to be a compelling state interest. U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Duggan in 1999 upheld the current undergraduate policies, challenged by Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher.