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Chronology of Key Rulings
in the University of Michigan Affirmative Action Lawsuits
and Other Higher Education Affirmative Action Suits

Revised: October 23, 2003


August 28, 2003 A newly announced process for undergraduate admissions at the University of Michigan will gather more information about student applicants and will include multiple levels of highly individualized review. The new process was developed to comply with the two June 23, 2003, U.S. Supreme Court rulings. (Additional information about the new undergraduate admissions process)
August 25, 2003: Plaintiff's petition for rehearing of the Grutter (Barbara Grutter v. Bollinger, Lehman, Shields, Regents of the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Law School) case denied.
July 18, 2003: Plaintiff filed a petition with the U. S. Supreme Court, requesting the Court to rehear the Grutter case.
June 23, 2003: The U.S. Supreme Court held in the Grutter case that diversity is a compelling interest in higher education, and that race is one of a number of factors that can be taken into account to achieve the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body. The Court found that the individualized, whole-file review used in the Law School's admissions policy is narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefits of diversity. The Court also stated that the Law School's goal of attaining a critical mass of underrepresented minority students does not transform its program into a quota. In the Gratz case (Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher v. Lee Bollinger, James J. Duderstadt, the University of Michigan, and the College of Literature, Arts and Sciences), the Court held that while race is one of a number of factors that can be considered in admissions, the automatic distribution of twenty (20) points to students from underrepresented minority groups in the undergraduate admissions process is not narrowly tailored.
April 1, 2003: Oral arguments were heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in Gratz and Grutter.
Feb. 18, 2003: Seventy-five amicus briefs were filed in Gratz and Grutter with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan by scores of professional associations; universities, colleges, law schools and national educational organizations; retired military leaders; Fortune 500 corporations; more than 14,000 law school students, in addition to other groups of individuals.*
December 2, 2002: U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari before judgment on the Constitutional issue only in Gratz, and granted certiorari in the Grutter case.
Oct. 29, 2002: The University filed its response to all three petitions (Grutter and Gratz) to the Supreme Court.
October 14, 2002: Intervenors (Gratz) filed a petition for certiorari before judgment.
October 1, 2002: Plaintiffs (Gratz) filed a petition for certiorari before judgment.
Aug. 9, 2002: The Center for Individual Rights filed a petition for certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Grutter case.
May 14, 2002: The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati held in the Grutter case that the University of Michigan Law School's admissions policy is constitutional, reversing the March 27, 2001, decision of Judge Friedman (Judge Bernard Friedman, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan). The Sixth Circuit followed the U.S. Supreme Court's Bakke precedent, holding that the Law School's interest in achieving the educational benefits that come from a diverse student body is compelling, and that its admissions policy is "narrowly tailored" to serve that interest. The Court found that each applicant is considered as an individual in the Law School admissions process, and noted that the pursuit of a "critical mass" of minority students ensures that all students — majority and minority alike — can enjoy the educational benefits of a diverse student body
December 6, 2001: Oral arguments were heard before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Gratz and Grutter.
Nov. 9, 2001: University of Georgia announced it would not seek Supreme Court review of a challenge to its race-conscious admissions policy. The University of Georgia admissions policy was struck down by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court did not decide whether the law permits race-conscious admissions.
Oct. 16, 2001: The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the plaintiffs' motion for hearing oral arguments en banc in both Michigan cases; they were scheduled to be heard before all of the Sixth Circuit judges on December 6, 2001.
June 26, 2001: The Supreme Court refused to review the Hopwood case. That case (decided by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals) struck down the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions.
June 13, 2001: Business, education and social justice organizations filed amicus briefs with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the University of Michigan in the Gratz case.*
May 31, 2001: Nearly 80 organizations, including the General Motors Corporation, 32 other Fortune 500 companies, the American Bar Association, the United Auto Workers and the American Council on Education filed amicus (friend of the court) briefs with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the University of Michigan in Grutter.*
May 30, 2001: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the University of Washington case. That case (decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) upheld the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions.
March 27, 2001: Judge Friedman issued his opinion in the Grutter case, finding that the law does not permit colleges and universities to use race in admissions. He further found that even if the law permitted race-conscious admissions, the Law School's policy weighs race too heavily. He issued an injunction enjoining the Law School from using race as a factor in admissions. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of the injunction allowing the Law School to continue their policy while the appeal proceeds. Judge Friedman also denied the intervenors' claims.
Feb. 26, 2001: Judge Duggan (Judge Patrick J. Duggan, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan) dismissed the undergraduate intervenors' claim that the University was justified in using race as a factor in admissions to remedy the present effects of past discrimination.
Jan. 16, 2001: A limited trial began on questions relating to the specific operation of the Law School admissions policy. The trial ran through February 16, 2001.
Dec. 22, 2000: Judge Friedman heard oral argument on motions for summary judgment in the Grutter case; he decided to hold a limited trial.
Dec. 13, 2000: Judge Duggan issued his opinion in the Gratz case, stating that diversity is a compelling governmental interest and that the University's current undergraduate admissions program meets the standards set by the Supreme Court in Bakke. He also ruled that the admissions programs in 1995-1998 were unconstitutional. Both plaintiff and defendants filed appeals with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Nov. 16, 2000: Oral argument was heard on cross motions for summary judgment in the Gratz case.
Oct 16, 2000: Twenty Fortune 500 companies filed an amicus brief, in support of the University of Michigan in the Gratz case. July 17, 2000: General Motors Corporation filed amicus briefs in support of the University of Michigan in both the Gratz and Grutter cases, about the value of a diverse workforce.
Aug. 10, 1999: The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order and allowed intervention in both cases. Both courts allowed additional time for discovery. Cases delayed for about a year.
March 26, 1998: A motion to intervene in the Grutter case filed by University of Michigan undergraduate students, college students at other universities, high school students and their parents, University of Michigan law school students, United For Equality and Affirmative Action, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary, and Law Students for Affirmative Action. The motion to intervene was denied by Judge Friedman.
Feb. 5, 1998: Motion to intervene in the Gratz case filed by high school students of color and their parents, Citizens for Affirmative Action's Preservation (CAAP), the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the ACLU Fund of Michigan, and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. The motion to intervene was denied by Judge Duggan.
Dec. 3, 1997: Lawsuit filed against University of Michigan regarding Law School admissions process. Barbara Grutter v. Bollinger, Lehman, Shields, Regents of the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Law School. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. (Judge Bernard Friedman)
Oct. 14, 1997: Lawsuit filed against University of Michigan regarding undergraduate admissions process. Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher v. Lee Bollinger, James J. Duderstadt, the University of Michigan, and the College of Literature, Arts and Sciences. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. (Judge Patrick J. Duggan)

* See amicus brief filings

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