Jesse Jackson Urges Students to Fight University of Michigan Ruling
ANN ARBOR, Mich.
After a federal judge ordered the University of Michigan law school to stop using race in its admissions policies, the Rev. Jesse Jackson urged students at a campus rally to fight the ruling.
Jackson told hundreds of students at an afternoon rally early this month to take up where the civil rights movement of the 1960s left off.
“You must not let them turn back the clock,” Jackson said. “Ann Arbor, it’s your day. Don’t let these Confederates turn back the clock. This is an American flag, not a Confederate flag.”
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled early this month that the use of race in admissions at the Michigan law school is unconstitutional (see Black Issues, April 12).
A day after the ruling, the university asked Friedman to put on hold his order that the law school stop using race in its admissions policy while it appeals. Friedman, however, refused to delay implementation of his order, saying that the university did not show it was likely to succeed in its appeal or that it would be irreparably harmed if it immediately complied with his order.
However, on April 5, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the University’s request to stay the district court’s recent ruling on the law school’s admissions process. The three-judge panel also said it would expedite the university’s appeal.
“As the 6th Circuit noted, Judge Friedman’s opinion diverged from other recent interpretations of Bakke,” said UM Law Dean Jeffrey Lehman in a statement. “We are confident that future decisions will continue to reaffirm our right to use that policy to enroll an outstanding, diverse student body at the University of Michigan Law School.”
In his ruling, Friedman departed from how some other courts have interpreted the Supreme Court’s 1978 Bakke case, which allowed consideration of race in university admissions but outlawed racial quotas.
The Washington-based Center for Individual Rights brought the lawsuit on behalf of Barbara Grutter, a White woman who claimed she was denied admission in 1997 because less-qualified minorities received preferential treatment.
Jackson called on Michigan students to organize a nationwide gathering on the campus in May to discuss the issue. He also urged students to participate in a march on Washington in October.
Elaine Liu, 19, a Chinese American sophomore from Harrisburg, Pa., said she views affirmative action as a tool for achieving diversity. “I support affirmative action, because I support diversity. I was definitely motivated by [Jackson’s] speech. He makes me want to do something..”
Michigan President Lee Bollinger said he expects a hard fight, but doesn’t believe the university should give up on protecting affirmative action.
“All we can do in higher education is articulate our principles and beliefs and bring them to the proper tribunals,” Bollinger said. “Diversity and melting pot go hand in hand.”
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