UM, allies suppress damaging info

On November 28, CIR co-counsel Charles J. Cooper will appear before U.S. Federal district court Judge David Lawson to argue that CIR client Eric Russell has a sufficient interest in the outcome of litigation challenging Michigan’s Prop. 2 to justify his continued intervention in the case.

Russell is seeking information regarding the academic and post-graduate performance of students admitted to the University of Michigan on the basis of racial preferences. Fearing the release of this data, the ACLU moved in early October for summary judgment against Russell. The ACLU and other parties argue that Russell’s interest in the case was limited to having his 2006 application judged without regard to race and that the data he now seeks is legally irrelevant.

CIR President Terence Pell commented, “Eric Russell has a clear and personal interest in ensuring that Prop. 2 continues to be enforced in Michigan. And that interest is as strong and concrete today as it was a year ago.”

Pell continued, “Russell is an ongoing applicant for financial aid at Wayne State Law School. And he intends to apply to transfer to the University of Michigan Law School this spring. If the plaintiffs succeed in this suit, Russell has every reason to believe the defendants will again use race to make admission, transfer, and financial aid decisions at Michigan schools.”

Underlying the ACLU’s effort to dismiss Russell from the case is Russell’s motion to compel the production of documents tracking the academic and post-graduate professional performance of underrepresented minority students admitted to Michigan schools on the basis of racial preferences over an eleven year period. Russell’s evidentiary motion is pending before the court.

Research by UCLA Professor Richard Sander has shown that, nationwide, minority students admitted to law schools on the basis of preferences do worse academically and are much more likely to fail the bar exam as other students even after multiple tries.

Prof. Sander’s preliminary analysis of three years of data provided by the UM Law School indicates that black graduates of the UM Law School who took the bar appeared to be about eight times as likely to fail on their first attempt as compared with white graduates.

To fully assess the harms of racial preferences at Michigan schools, Russell seeks data for an eleven year period from graduate and undergraduate schools. The UM and other defendants in the case argue that the data is “legally irrelevant” to the issue of whether Prop. 2 is constitutional.

CIR President Terence Pell commented, “First the defenders of racial preferences say they don’t use preferences. Then they say preferences benefit minority students. Now they claim the data that would confirm whether preferences benefit minority students is irrelevant. This data is goes to the heart of claims made by the ACLU, BAMN and the other defenders of racial preferences.”