May 31, 2001 (55)

 

Affirmative action cases get more support from many groups

EDITORS: A complete list of amicus filers and media contacts at each organization is below.

See a related story: Cases get more support from businesses

ANN ARBOR---A "stunning array" of organizations representing business, labor, public officials, higher education and the legal profession plans to file legal briefs in support of the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies in admissions, U-M President Lee C. Bollinger announced today (May 31).

The groups—which include 33 of the world's largest companies, the United Auto Workers, the American Bar Association, the National Organization for Women Legal Defense Fund, and several high-profile Michigan lawmakers—will file amicus or "friend of the court" briefs today in the University's appeal of Grutter v. Bollinger. On March 27, federal district court Judge Bernard Friedman issued a ruling that the University's Law School admissions policy, which considers the applicant's race as one factor in admissions decisions, was unconstitutional. The case is on appeal in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Many of the amicus supporters also will file briefs on behalf of the University in the undergraduate admissions lawsuit, Gratz v. Bollinger, around June 13. Judge Patrick Duggan upheld the University's policies in his Dec. 13 decision.

"I am deeply gratified at this stunning array of support for our position," Bollinger said. "More than 80 groups have joined amicus briefs on our behalf. It is significant that these groups include both the largest corporations and one of the most influential labor unions; groups representing women and Asian students; and virtually every university and legal education organization.

"It is a reaffirmation of the widespread public support that exists for our policies and the overwhelming belief that we must continue to educate a diverse group of students in our law schools and in our universities generally."

U-M Law Dean Jeffrey Lehman indicated that the American Bar Association amicus brief is especially significant. "Typically, the ABA files in the court likely to be the last venue for a matter. While there is a strong likelihood the Supreme Court will ultimately take this case, the Association filed here because of the critical importance to the profession and the nation of preserving diversity in law schools."

In its brief, the ABA writes that it has, "for more than three decades, promoted and defended racial and ethnic diversity as crucially important to legal education, the practice of law, and the administration of justice. The district court's decision undermines not only the quality of legal education, but also the country's ability to ensure equal justice and the rule of law."

An ABA commission recently found that only about 10 percent of lawyers are minorities, minority entry into the profession has slowed considerably since 1995, and minority representation in senior legal positions remains minuscule. Courts, the brief notes, have widely recognized the need to address the lack of diversity in the legal profession. "Without diversity in legal education," the brief says, "there can be no diversity in the legal profession or the judicial system."

"Diversity of the bar is essential to fulfilling the bar's paramount purpose of providing (legal) representation to all," the ABA writes. Furthermore, "diversity is fundamental to fostering and maintaining the public's perception that our legal system is fair, unbiased, and inclusive, thereby preserving and enhancing the public's trust and confidence in our system of government."

General Motors and Steelcase, which earlier led the filing of amicus briefs on behalf of 21 multinational companies, have filed new briefs along with 12 additional corporations that include American Airlines, Boeing, Mitsubishi, United Airlines and the Coca-Cola Co. In their briefs, the corporations note that almost half of the U.S. population will be made up of minorities by the year 2050.

"The nation's future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to the ideas and mores of a diverse student body," they write. Essential skills for future business leaders include "the ability to understand, learn from, work and build consensus with individuals from different backgrounds and cultures."

Regarding the UAW brief, President Stephen P. Yokich noted that "the UAW is more than a collective bargaining agent, we are part of a social movement dedicated to justice and opportunity for all people, no matter their race, gender and religion, sexual orientation or national origin.

"The UAW has a rich and long history of fighting against discrimination in our union, our workplaces, and our society. The overriding lesson of our experience is that appreciating our great racial and cultural diversity is absolutely essential to creating a productive, healthy and dignified work environment—and to creating a fair and just society."

In a press conference May 30, five prominent Michigan lawmakers announced they are urging the federal appeals court to uphold affirmative action at the University. The five are U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Michigan State Rep. Kwame M. Kilpatrick (D-Wayne County), Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and former U.S. Attorney Saul Green.

In their brief they warn that "reducing the diversity among the University of Michigan student body likely will deny significant communities within Michigan the ability to fully participate in the political and economic benefits of our society."

More information about the two lawsuits against the University can be found on the Web at http://www.umich.edu/~urel/admissions/

Contact: Julie Peterson
Phone: (734) 936-5190
E-mail: juliep@umich.edu

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Amicus Brief Supporters and Media Contacts where available

1.  GENERAL MOTORS
JAY COONEY	
313.665.3149

2.  3M, ABBOTT LABORATORIES, AMERICAN AIRLINES, ASHLAND 
INC., BANK ONE CORP., THE BOEING CO., THE COCA-COLA CO., 
THE DOW CHEMICAL CO., EI.DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND CO., 
EASTMAN KODAK CO., ELI LILLY & CO., ERNST & YOUNG LLP, 
EXELON CORP., FANNIE MAE, GENERAL DYNAMICS, GENERAL MILLS, INC.,
INTEL CORPORATION, JOHNSON & JOHNSON, KELLOGG COMPANY, KPMG 
INTERNATIONAL, LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES, INC., MICROSOFT 
CORP., MITSUBISHI MOTOR SALES OF AMERICA, NATIONWIDE 
MUTUAL INSURANCE CO. & NATIONWIDE FINANCIAL SERVICES, 
INC., PFIZER , PPG INDUSTRIES, INC., THE PROCTOR & GAMBLE 
CO., SARA LEE CORP., STEELCASE, TEXACO, INC., TRW, INC. AND 
UNITED AIRLINES
DAVE DEBRUIN, JENNER BLOCK
202.639.6015

3M
MARY AUVIN
651.736.2597

BANK ONE CORP.
TOM KELLY
312.732.7007

EXELON CORP.
DON KIRCHOFFNER 
312-394-3001 

KPMG INTERNATIONAL
GEORGE LEDWITH
201.505.3543

TRW, INC.
MICHAEL JABLONSKI
206.291.7775
	
3.  AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
NANCY SLONIM
312.988.6132

4.  UNITED AUTO WORKERS 
FRANK JOYCE
ROGER KERSON
313.926.5297

5.  JOHN CONYERS JR., CAROLYN CHEEKS KILPATRICK, 
KWAME M. KILPATRICK, DENNIS ARCHER AND SAUL GREEN
ANTHONY MILES
206.623.7580

6.  AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EDUCATION, AMERICAN 
ASSOCIATION FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION 
FOR TEACHER EDUCATION, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF 
COLLEGES OF NURSING, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGIATE 
REGISTRARS AND ADMISSIONS OFFICERS, AMERICAN 
ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AMERICAN 
ASSOCIATION OF STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, AMERICAN
 ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS, AMERICAN COLLEGE 
PERSONNEL ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN DENTAL EDUCATION 
ASSOCIATION, ACT, INC., ASSOCIATION OF ACADEMIC HEALTH 
CENTERS, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN COLLEGES AND 
UNIVERSITIES, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN LAW SCHOOLS, 
ASSOCIATION OF MEDICAL COLLEGES, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN 
UNIVERSITIES, ASSOCIATION OF CATHOLIC COLLEGES AND 
UNIVERSITIES, ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE 
TRUSTEES, ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNING BOARDS OF 
UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES, ASSOCIATION OF JESUIT 
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY 
PERSONNEL ASSOCIATION, COUNCIL FOR ADVANCEMENT AND 
SUPPORT OF EDUCATION, COUNCIL OF INDEPENDENT COLLEGES, 
EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICE, EDUCAUSE, HISPANIC 
ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, NATIONAL 
ASSOCIATION FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS COUNSELING, NATIONAL 
ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, 
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENT FINANCIAL AID 
ADMINISTRATORS, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENT 
PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATORS, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF 
UNIVERSITY RESEARCH ADMINISTRATORS, AND UNITED NEGRO 
COLLEGE FUND
TIM MCDONOUGH
202.939.9355

7.  LAW DEANS OF COLUMBIA, GEORGETOWN, DUKE, HARVARD, 
PENNSYLVANIA, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY AND CORNELL
DAVE LEEBRON
212.854.2675

8.  NOW LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
MAUREEN MCFADDEN
212.413.7522

9.  AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LAW SCHOOLS, COMMITTEE ON 
INSTITUTIONAL COOPERATION, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY, 
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS, THE COLLEGE 
BOARD, AND AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LAW DEANS

10.  NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
GRACE YOO, ESQ.
202.626.7693

11.  NATIONAL ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN LEGAL CONSORTIUM
VINCENT ENG
202.296.2300

12.  HARVARD CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT
ANGELO ANCHETA
617.496.3240

13.  CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATORS
PETER JOY
314.935.6445

FRANCES KAO
TIM NELSON
312.407.0700

14.  LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW
DIANE GROSS
202.662.8600