Although the U.S. Supreme Court will not decide whether to grant a writ of certiorari to Grutter v. Bollinger for at least a month, the University is already preparing for a possible argument defending the Law School’s use of race in admissions.

Paul Wong

Washington attorney Maureen Mahoney joined the legal team representing the University as lead co-counsel with attorney John Payton of the Washington law firm Wolmer, Cutler and Pickering.

After interviewing several applicants, the University General Counsel’s Office, Law School Dean Jeffery Lehman and other members of the University chose Mahoney because of her familiarity with the Supreme Court.

“She’s a very experienced Supreme Court litigator and is widely respected in the legal field,” General Counsel Marvin Krislov said. “We think (she) will add some strength to our team.”

Mahoney has worked for the Washington firm Latham and Watkins for more than 20 years and served for two years as a United States Deputy Solicitor General. She is an expert in constitutional and appellate litigation and won 10 out of the 11 cases she has argued in front of the Supreme Court. Mahoney also recently won a case representing the U.S. House challenging the Commerce Department’s policy of using statistical sampling in the 2000 census.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said it is common before a case reaches the Supreme Court to bolster legal representation.

“It seems very logical and natural to add someone who has good deal of experience at the Supreme Court level,” she said.

Peterson added that Mahoney’s hiring is simply a move of preparation and not in prediction of whether the Supreme Court will decide to take the case.

“Hiring her is not a statement of probability,” Peterson said. “We’re trying to do all the things to make sure we’re prepared.”

Mahoney will be in Ann Arbor Sept. 18 for a forum hosted by the University discussing the lawsuits. Presenters, including University President Mary Sue Coleman, Krislov, Mahoney and Lehman will address the forum attendees from 4 to 6 p.m.

Peterson said the University would like to give members of the community an opportunity to ask questions and become more informed about the recent events and origins of both the lawsuit against the Law School and the case regarding LSA admissions policies.

“We just want people to learn all the developments that have happened to find out what it all means to them,” Peterson said.

The 6th Circuit reversed a decision made by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, in the case Grutter v. Bollinger. The court declared in a majority opinion that diversity is a compelling state interest.

The Center for Individual Rights, representing plaintiff Barbara Grutter filed papers Aug. 9 asking the Supreme Court to hear an appeal in the case. The University has 30 days to ask the Supreme Court to deny CIR’s request.

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