NEW YORK – Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum are hailing the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings as a victory for their respective positions.
The differing decisions in the Grutter v. Bollinger and the Gratz v. Bollinger cases are allowing Democrats and Republicans alike to claim that the court endorsed their own political agenda with regard to affirmative action.
President Bush, who in March called the University’s admissions process “fundamentally flawed,” praised the Supreme Court in its dismissal of the numerical, race-conscious admissions process, at the same time calling for more diversity in higher education.
“My Administration will continue to promote policies that expand educational opportunities for Americans from all racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds,” Bush said in a statement.
“The Court has made clear that colleges and universities must engage in a serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”
Democrats in Washington also applauded the Court’s decision, saying that the survival of affirmative action was ensured by the Grutter decision.
Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn) took pride in being the University’s representative and called the decision a “historic victory for all Americans.”
Dingell also attacked the stances of his political opponents, saying that Bush in particular was acting in a hypocritical fashion by claiming the decision to be consistent with his own agenda.
“As far as Bush goes, a few months ago he was saying he was opposed to affirmative action and now he’s saying he’s in favor of the ruling,” Dingell spokesman Mike Hacker said. “He can’t have it both ways.”
Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), who is the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, was similarly agressive in his criticism of the President, placing the ruling in a broader political context and using it to leverege support for the upcoming elections.
“The closeness of today’s 5-4 decision underscores the stakes involved in any Supreme Court vacancies and the importance of next year’s presidential election. If George Bush had his way, the Supreme Court would have struck down affirmative action,” Conyers said. “Not only did his administration file a brief against the University of Michigan, they refused to even meet with a single member of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss the matter. That was unconscionable.”
Public officials within the state of Michigan were similarly divided as political rivals found different reasons to appear optomistic about the outcome of the hearing.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of the University in March, said the university was the best place for diversity to begin as different groups would foster the exchange of ideas within an academic environment.
“I am gratified and pleased that the Court has upheld the University of Michigan’s ability to independently decide that developing a diverse student body is in the best interests of its community,” Granholm said in a statement.
“I applaud the Court for recognizing that fostering diversity is, in fact, in the government’s best interest.”
Granholm’s successor as Michigan attorney general, Republican Mike Cox, approached the issue from a legal standpoint, congratulating the Supreme Court for what he said was upholding the Equal Rights Amendment.
Cox was critical of the University for instituting its use of race-conscious admissions.
The Attorney General, who graduated from the University’s undergraduate and law school programs, made no mention of his ties to the University in a statement he made regarding the rulings.
“Diversity is a goal worth pursuing in our colleges, universities and workplace. However, policies that use quotas or reward and punish solely on the basis of race are not only unconstitutional, but divide Americans and thwart real progress,” Cox said.
“Those of us in the public and private sectors can and should work toward greater diversity. However, the end cannot justify the means,” Cox added.