The University Record, April 9, 2001

Appeals Court grants stay in Law School lawsuit

By Julie Peterson
Office of the Vice President for Communications

The Law School. Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on April 5 granted the University’s request to stay last week’s district court ruling on the Law School’s admissions process. The three-judge panel also said it would expedite the University’s appeal.

Federal District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman had issued an injunction March 27 ordering the Law School to discontinue its use of race as a factor in admissions decisions. The Law School had temporarily halted making any further offers of admission pending a ruling from the appeals court.

“We are delighted that the 6th Circuit has acted promptly to ensure that our admissions process may continue without disruption,” said Law School Dean Jeffrey Lehman. “Our admissions policy was carefully crafted to comply with the Supreme Court’s requirements as set forth in the Bakke case.

“As the 6th Circuit Court noted, Judge Friedman’s opinion diverged from other recent interpretations of Bakke. We are confident that future decisions will continue to reaffirm our right to use our policy to enroll an outstanding, diverse student body at the University of Michigan Law School.”

In its April 5 decision, the 6th Circuit Court wrote that “the injunction now in place irreparably harms the University of Michigan and disrupts the selection of the 2001–02 first-year law school class.” A total of 826 offers of admission have been extended so far this year out of about 1,000 offers that are made each year. The Law School typically receives about 3,500 applications for 350 spaces in each incoming class.

The Court also noted that the University’s appeal “presents serious questions on the merits. The district court’s reading of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) diverges from other interpretations of the case, including that in Gratz v. Bollinger, now pending before this court on appeal. The challenge the defendants make to the district court’s decision is more than sufficient to support a stay pending this appeal.”

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