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Consortium of Civil Rights Groups Rally
Behind Court Decision

"The University of Michigan's Affirmative Action in Admissions Policy is Good for America."

May 14, 2002

Washington - Americans For A Fair Chance (AFC), a consortium of six of America's leading civil rights legal organizations, announced its strong support for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal's recent decision to uphold the University of Michigan's affirmative action admissions policies.

By a vote of 5 to 4, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found on Tuesday that the University of Michigan's law school policy of considering race as one of many factors in deciding which students to accept is constitutional. The decision in Grutter v. Bollinger reversed a district court's ruling in March, 2001 that the University's law school admissions policies were illegal because they were not clearly defined and relied too heavily on race.

"The Sixth Circuit opinion is an unqualified victory, a ringing endorsement of Bakke that decides the issue of whether diversity is a compelling state interest," said Theodore Shaw, Associate Director-Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. "These cases are part of a sustained ideological attack that could have closed down opportunities for students of color. This decision stops that from happening."

"We at MALDEF are very happy that the court has recognized the compelling nature of the state's interest in a diverse student body in a graduate school, says Antonia Hernandez President and general Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "I was a product of affirmative action as both an undergraduate and in law school, and I have served MALDEF and the Latino community for 17 years.

Judith Lichtman, President of the National Partnership for Women and Families stated, "Women have a long history of facing discrimination in a variety of settings. Because of this history, the National Partnership for Women & Families strongly supports this decision as a critical step in protecting and advancing the fundamental principles of women's rights, and creating a level playing field for all Americans. Karen K. Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, said "The court's opinion affirms the commitment not only to diversity but to the inclusion of students from groups which have been historically discriminated against. Without affirmative action, these students might not be represented in the student body in meaningful numbers."

Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law comments, "By its decision today, the Sixth Circuit gives true spirit to the United States Constitution and recognizes the compelling need for our universities to reflect the diversity of our nation."

According to a survey conducted by AFC, most Americans continue to support affirmative action in general and in the college admissions process.

Americans for a Fair Chance seeks to educate the public and the media about the

Americans For A Fair Chance is a nonpartisan consortium of six of America's leading civil rights legal organizations, including Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc., National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National Women's Law Center, and the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Contact: Estuardo V. Rodriguez, Jr.
202-530-0566 ext. 17
Sean Nichols, AFC
202-822-9221



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