University lawyers that argue the use of race as an admissions factor is essential for creating a diverse student body, but it does not substitute for academic qualifications, in briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday.

The University briefs were joined by about 60 amicus, or “friend of the court” briefs from 300 national organizations and corporations expected to be filed by today’s deadline, which was delayed from yesterday due to weather concerns.

University lawyers laid out their legal arguments in the University briefs for the two lawsuits, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, which challenge the use of race as a factor in the admissions policies of the Law School and College of Literature, Science and the Arts, respectively.

The court will hear oral arguments on the cases April 1.

Both briefs state that using race as a plus factor is vital to the University’s goal of achieving a diverse student body, and both also present empirical evidence arguing that diversity benefits all University students.

“The University cannot achieve meaningful diversity without considering race or ethnicity as factors in admissions,” the Gratz brief said.

But the briefs argue the University’s admissions policies consider many factors beside race and conform to the court’s ruling in University of California Board of Regents v. Bakke, University General Counsel Marvin Krislov said.

In the Bakke case, the Court banned racial quotas but allowed the use of race in conjunction with other admissions factors.

“We take the Bakke principles into account and give some weight to race, but the predominant weight is academic,” Krislov said. “We do a decent job of balancing these factors.”

The LSA admissions policy grants 20 points out of a possible 150 for race, while the Law School’s policy gives increased weight to candidates of different racial backgrounds in an attempt to create a significant minority population.

“Minority enrollment depends on a variety of things,” Krislov said. “We’ve been very clear that we don’t have a quota.”

But Curt Levey, spokesman for the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington-based law firm representing the plaintiffs in both cases, said CIR’s statistical analysis proves the Law School accepts minority students with grade point averages 1.2 points less than white students.

Krislov said while several black students with lower grades and test scores than plaintiff Barbara Grutter were accepted, many white students displaying special talents or diverse characteristics have also been accepted ahead of more academically qualified students.

Levey said less qualified white students are accepted occasionally, but the Law School automatically accepts minority students. The racial composition of classes admitted to the Law School has held constant at around 13 percent in recent years, he said.

“Race is the one factor that allows you to systematically get in,” Levey said. “If it sounds like a quota, it is a quota.”

Many qualified minorities are rejected every year, Krislov said, but the racial composition of each class is similar because the pool of applicants rarely changes dramatically.

Stanford Law Prof. Paul Brest said the key issue in the Law School case is “whether they are aiming for 13 percent and just disguising it.”

He said the evidence each side presents will have an impact on the decision of Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, who many legal experts consider to be the swing vote in the cases.

Although the LSA policy considers numerous factors, race is the only one for which the University is targeting a set number of applicants, Levey said.

“They clearly have a figure in mind,” he said. “They’re not going to consider their policies a failure if they don’t have a critical mass of cellists.”

Brest said the Court may overturn the LSA policy because it allocates a specific value to racial composition.

“The clearer you are that you’re taking race into account … the more of a problem it is under the Constitution,” he said.

He added that O’Conner, who many legal experts believe will be the swing vote in the cases, has voiced such an opinion.

Regarding whether the University places too much weight on race, Krislov said the justices need to allow “some deference to the academic institution’s judgment.”

The Law School brief also addresses the special attention given to black, Hispanic and Native American students by saying certain experiences are unique to these groups.

“There certainly is history in America that is unique for these three populations. There is also contuing separation,” Krislov said.

while the Law School’s policy gives increased weight to candidates of different racial backgrounds in an attempt to create a significant minority population.

“Minority enrollment depends on a variety of things,” Krislov said. “We’ve been very clear that we don’t have a quota.”

But Curt Levey, spokesman for the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington-based law firm representing the plaintiffs in both cases, said CIR’s statistical analysis proves the Law School accepts minority students with grade point averages 1.2 points less than white students.

Krislov said that while several black students with lower grades and test scores than plaintiff Barbara Grutter were accepted, many white students displaying special talents or diverse characteristics have also been accepted ahead of more academically-qualified students.

Levey said less qualified white students are accepted occasionally, but the Law School automatically accepts minority students. The racial composition of classes admitted to the Law School has held constant at around 13 percent in recent years, he said. “Race is the one factor that allows you to systematically get in,” Levey said. “If it sounds like a quota, it is a quota.”

Many qualified minorities are rejected every year, Krislov said, but the racial composition of each class is similar because the pool of applicants rarely changes dramatically. Stanford University Law Prof. Paul Brest said the key issue in the Law School case is “whether they are aiming for 13 percent and just disguising it.” He said the evidence each side presents will have an impact on the decision of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who many legal experts consider to be the swing vote in the cases.

Although the LSA policy considers numerous factors, race is the only one for which the University is targeting a set number of applicants, Levey said. “They clearly have a figure in mind,” he said. “They’re not going to consider their policies a failure if they don’t have a critical mass of cellists.”

Brest said the court may overturn the LSA policy because it allocates a specific value to racial composition. “The clearer you are that you’re taking race into account … the more of a problem it is under the Constitution,” he said.He added that O’Connor has voiced such an opinion.

Regarding whether the University places too much weight on race, Krislov said the justices need to allow “some deference to the academic institution’s judgment.” The Law School brief also addresses the special attention given to black, Hispanic and Native American students by saying certain experiences are unique to these groups.

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