ACLU Lauds Landmark Supreme Court Decisions Upholding Affirmative Action

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the Supreme Court's decisions today upholding the principle that public universities may continue to use affirmative action to ensure a diverse student body. In two landmark rulings, the Supreme Court upheld the race-conscious admissions policies of the University of Michigan's law school while rejecting as unconstitutional the undergraduate school's "point system."

"Today the Court has reiterated America's commitment to affirmative action, and the nation is better off for it," said Vincent Warren, an ACLU staff attorney who worked on both cases. "Although the Court rejected the manner in which race was considered by the undergraduate school, it made clear that race could be considered as one factor in the admissions process. This is a tremendous victory."

The ACLU and its Michigan affiliate were co-counsel on behalf of a group of minority students in the challenge to the University's undergraduate admissions affirmative action policy, Gratz v. Bollinger, 02-51, and joined a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the University's law school admissions policy in Grutter v. Bollinger, 02-241.

"Today's ruling recognizes that there is still work that needs to be done to fulfill the promise of equal educational opportunity that the Court set in motion nearly 50 years ago in another landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education," said ACLU Legal Director Steven R. Shapiro. "With today's ruling, the Court has kept the door open for thousands of academically qualified students of color to continue to pursue the American dream through our nation's colleges and universities."

Hundreds of groups and individuals filed briefs with the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan's admissions policies and race-conscious affirmative action programs. Notables include former military leaders General Norman Schwarzkopf and General John M. Shalikashvili; business executives from General Motors, 3M, Pfizer and Northrop Grumman; and the West Point military academy, whose affirmative action policies produced one of its most famous graduates, Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The ACLU's amicus briefs and other material can be seen at:
Gratz v. Bollinger (Decision 02-516) and Grutter v. Bollinger (Decision 02-241)

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