Lawyers suing the University for its use of race in admissions
have cited enrollment statistics and created elaborate grids
attempting to prove the Law School uses admissions quotas, but
University Lead Counsel Marvin Krislov said the grids do not
capture the comprehensive nature of the Law School’s policy.
The Washington-based law firm Center for Individual Rights,
representing the plaintiffs in lawsuits against the Law School and
LSA’s admissions policies, employed a statistician to create grids
placing applicants into cells based on their grade point averages
and LSAT scores.
Krislov said the grids, which show blacks and Hispanics in
certain cells were admitted at much higher rates than whites or
Asian Americans with the same LSAT scores and GPAs, are “only part
of a picture of a human being.” He said the University looks at
every applicant individually, considering many other factors such
as references, essays, and strength of curriculum.
“It doesn’t represent the way we do admissions,” Krislov said.
“The grids only plot two numbers – LSATs and grades – and we look
at a lot more than that.”
The University’s legal brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court
argues CIR’s evidence fails to explain why the Law School accepted
85 white and Asian American applicants from 1995 to 2000 with lower
test scores and GPAs than 69 minorities rejected during the same
CIR spokesman Curt Levey said some exceptions exist in each
admitted class, but “on average (admissions officers) subject
whites and Asians to a much more rigorous standard.”
He said while the Law School considers many factors other than
grades and LSAT scores in its policy, minorities would only be
disproportionately admitted if on average they performed better
than whites across other admissions factors.
“The huge discrepancies can only be explained if minorities
perform much better than whites and Asian on those other factors,”
Levey said. “But I don’t think the University is claiming that
blacks and Mexican-Americans write much better essays.”
The University’s brief also said when administrators drafted the
policy in 1991, they took precautions to ensure the policy would
not “authorize, require, or encourage admissions officers to admit
a predetermined number of minority applicants.”
As evidence that the Law School is not employing a secret quota,
the brief cites statistics showing that minority enrollment does
not hold steady, ranging from 13.5 to 20.1 percent from 1993 to
Levey said that in the last four years minority enrollment has
fluctuated from only 13.5 to 13.7 percent, but Krislov said the
composition of the applicant pool cannot be expected to vary
greatly across a four year span.
Even if CIR successfully proves the University is giving a
significant plus factor to blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans,
it still has to convince the court that race is receiving too much
weight. The University’s brief says the 6th Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled the Law School could not enroll meaningful numbers of
minorities by placing less weight on race.
Race-blind admissions would pit a handful of black applicants
against thousands of whites with similar test scores and GPAs. In
2000, only 26 blacks in the entire nation had a 3.5 GPA and 165
LSAT score, while 3,173 whites and Asian Americans achieved similar
results, the brief said.
“If you don’t consider race as one factor among many, than
because of the pool size … you would have a devastating drop in
the number of minority students enrolled at the University,”
Yet Levey said the University’s policies should be overturned
because they target enrolling a meaningful number of minorities,
which he said contradicts then-Supreme Court Justice Louis Powell’s
ruling in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The
1978 ruling banned racial quotas but permitted the use of race as a
factor in a narrowly tailored admissions program.
“Powell did not say achieving racial diversity was a compelling
state interest, he said achieving intellectual diversity was,”
Levey said. “Achieving racial diversity for the sake of racial
diversity is unconstitutional.”