Accessing Affirmative Action on the WebWASHINGTON
There’s no doubt that college and university administrators are seeking out the most reliable sources of information and advice on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases. While proclaimed as a victory for race-conscious admissions, the decisions will require institutions to observe new restrictions on the use of race in admissions. In recent months, a San Francisco-based national coalition of law professors, civil rights lawyers, policy professionals and students have taken to the Internet to develop a Web site dedicated to the preservation of race-conscious affirmative action.
The coalition, the Equal Justice Society, launched <www.preserveaffirmativeaction.org> on June 16, a week before the Supreme Court handed down decisions in the Michigan cases. The Web site is intended to provide information, tools and resources to help faculty, students and alumni at institutions of higher education preserve affirmative action.
“We think it’s important that institutions get the best information they can to preserve their affirmative action programs,” says Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and member of the Equal Justice Society.
Overton says the idea for the Web site emerged not too long after Equal Justice Society (EJS) members participated in a town hall meeting on affirmative action at the Howard University School of Law in March. Discussions among members, including Overton and Eva Patterson, executive director of EJS, led to the development of the Web site, Overton says.
Overton notes that part of the impetus for the Web site came from the fact that the Bush administration began publicizing and pushing alternatives to race-conscious affirmative action. “It seemed to me the right wanted to push the race-neutral plans and we needed to respond to that,” he says.
Currently, the Web site has information on practical steps on how to organize to ensure that school administrators preserve an effective and legal affirmative action program. The Michigan cases can be read in their entirety by accessing the Web site. And there are links to other national organizations committed to race-conscious affirmative action.
Founded in 2000, the EJS was launched by its members over mounting concerns about the rightward tilt of the courts and of legal doctrine in such fields as civil rights, environmental protection, voting rights, criminal law, immigration law and federalism. The EJS is dedicated to implementing a positive vision of equal justice through the development of progressive legal theory and practice.
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