The University Record, November 20, 2000

U lawsuit gets court hearing

By Jane R. Elgass

Oral arguments on summary judgment in the University’s undergraduate admissions lawsuit, Gratz v. Bollinger, et.al., were held in Federal District Court in Detroit on Nov. 16 before Judge Patrick Duggan. In the oral arguments both sides were asking Duggan to rule in their favor and not send the case to trial.

The Gratz suit challenges the University’s use of race in its admissions process for LS&A. It is a class-action case, brought by the Center for Individual Rights (CIR) in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Jennifer Gratz, an unsuccessful applicant for admission for fall term 1994, and Patrick Hamacher, an unsuccessful applicant for admission for fall term 1997.

In the Nov. 16 hearing, the University argued that the 1978 Supreme Court case, University of California v. Bakke, supports its consideration of race as a “plus factor” in admissions. CIR argued that Bakke does not support the use of race and that the University’s policies do not comply with the Bakke ruling.

Following the arguments, Duggan took the case under advisement. He did not rule from the bench.

According to Elizabeth M. Barry, associate vice president and deputy general counsel, “Duggan praised the high quality of the arguments presented by attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants, and commented on the respect they showed for each other during the hearing.”

Duggan indicated he may grant summary judgment, noting that the facts are not in dispute. Deciding the conclusions to be drawn from the facts is his responsibility as the judge, he noted.

If a summary judgment is not issued, the case will go to trial. If it does go to trial, the trial may begin as early as December.

The University also is being sued about its admissions process for the Law School, Grutter v. Bollinger, et. al., on the same grounds. CIR sued on behalf of Barbara Grutter, an unsuccessful applicant for the fall term 1997 entering class. The trial date for this case is Jan. 16.

Detailed information on the lawsuits is on the Web at www.umich.edu/~urel/admissions/. It also is the last link on the left-hand side of the University’s gateway page, www.umich.edu.