CIR files second lawsuit against University of Michigan

Washinton, D.C. – The Center for Individual Rights filed a class action lawsuit today against the University of Michigan Law School seeking to have that school’s admissions policies declared unconstitutional. Today’s lawsuit follows an earlier lawsuit filed against the University of Michigan undergraduate College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts.

CIR and co-counsel David F. Herr and Kirk Kolbo of the Minneapolis firm of Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand LLP are representing plaintiff Barbara Grutter, who applied to the law school for admission for the fall of 1997. In addition to ending illegal, discriminatory admissions policies, the suit seeks admission and monetary damages for all those individuals discriminatorily denied admissions in 1995 and all following years because of the law school’s illegal racial preferences.

As in the undergraduate college, race plays a significant role in determining who is accepted to the law school. For example, according to December, 1995, documents obtained and made public by UM Professor Carl Cohen, there are drastic differences in admissions rates depending on race. “Caucasian American” candidates with Ms. Grutter’s credentials (LSAT score of 161 and grade point average of 3.81) had an admission rate of just 8.6%. “African American” applicants with exactly the same credentials had an admission rate of 100 %.

The law school did not confine its discriminatory practices to top-tier candidates such as Ms. Grutter. In twenty-one “cells” (or combinations of grade point average and LSAT score), “African-American” applicants had a 100% admissions rate. There were no cells with 100% admissions rates for “Caucasian Americans.”

The lawsuit contends that such disparities were a consequence of racial preferences in the admissions process that violate the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Last April, CIR filed a similar suit against the University of Washington Law School, and this October, filed suit against the UM undergraduate college. After filing that suit, CIR was contacted by numerous rejected applicants to other UM schools, including the law school.

CIR President Michael McDonald commented, “racial preferences permeate the entire UM system. The suit we are filing today serves notice that no academic unit will be immune from scrutiny. It is time for the UM to call a halt to its illegal and discriminatory practices.”