The University Record, August 16, 1999

Ruling ‘big step forward’ for equality, intervenor says

By Jane R. Elgass

Having a part in the defense of affirmative action practices ‘is something Black and other minority students have never before had an opportunity to do,’ notes Miranda Massie, attorney representing intervenors in the affirmative action case against the Law School. File photo from U-M Photo Services
Attorneys representing intervenors in the admissions practices lawsuits against the University and one of the intervenors contacted by the Record last week were pleased with the Appeals Court ruling in favor of their participation.

Attorney Godfrey Dillard of the Detroit firm of Evans and Luptak said he and the intervenors “are certainly gratified by the ruling. The court accepted all four issues.”

He cautioned, however, that “this is a first small step, the door is just opening for us to be full and equal partners, to present our evidence in defense of the University.”

Dillard, who shares responsibilities with Ted Shaw of the NAACP Legal Defense Office in the undergraduate admissions case, also said, “We have been outsiders until now. We will have to talk with the other attorneys and probably have a conference with the judge as we try to get ourselves up to date on what has happened so far.”

Miranda Massie and the individuals and organizations she represents in the Law School case “are absolutely thrilled that we will be able to take part in the defense of affirmative action, which is something Black and other minority students have never before had an opportunity to do.”

“We view the ruling as a big step forward in the continuing struggle for integration and equality in higher education,” added Massie, who is with the firm of Sheff and Washington in Detroit.

Law School case intervenor, Jessica Curtin, who is a Rackham graduate student and member of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary, got involved because students haven’t truly been represented in the court room in other trials.

“Students have been left out of all decisions so far. They must be in the courtroom to be heard. We intend to win [the case] now. We will launch a very aggressive defense.”

Attacks on affirmative action are in danger of “turning back the clock to Jim Crow,” Curtin added. “The fight for integration and against resegregation is key in this battle.”