1. Archives - District Courts Overturned UM Quotas
District Court Finds University Guilty of Illegal "Reverse" Discrimination in Gratz v. Bollinger (undergrad) and in Grutter v. Bollinger (law school) in 2000 & 2001
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Jennifer Gratz & Patrick Hammacher: In 1995 Ms. Gratz applied to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.  In 1997 Patrick Hammacher applied to the same school.

Their applications were rejected because they are white.  Minority students with lower test scores were admitted ahead of Gratz and Hammacher to meet the University's racial enrollment goals.

  • Gratz v. Bollinger, No. 97-75231 (E.D. Mich. filed Oct. 14, 1997)
  • Status: District court judge granted summary judgment with respect to the LSA's admissions programs in existence from 1995-1998. (See 1.1 Summary, below)

Barbara Grutter:  The UM Law School rejected Barbara Grutter's application because she is white.  "Caucasian American" candidates with Ms. Grutter's credentials (LSAT score of 161 and grade point average of 3.81) had an admission rate of only 8.6%.  But black Law School applicants with exactly the same credentials had an admission rate of 100 %.

  • Grutter v. Bollinger, No. 97-75928 (E.D. Mich. filed Dec. 3, 1997)
  • Status: Pending. Trial scheduled for Jan. 2001.   (See 1.2 Summary, below)

U Michigan ARCHIVES Index:

          The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) launched a highly-publicized lawsuit against UM's discriminatory racial preferences.  The lawsuit received national attention on CBS' 60 Minutes program on Sunday, October 29, 2000.

Undergraduate Case:  Gratz v. Bollinger
Court Ruled UM's Undergraduate Race Policy Was Illegal at the Time
U Mich Quotas are Crumbling
Last Updated Dec. 13, 2000

          In a ringing endorsement of the rights of all citizens to be treated equally under the law, a federal district court judge today ruled in the nationally watched case of Gratz v. Bollinger, that there was no need to proceed with a trial and that the record as it stood was sufficient to find the University of Michigan guilty of intentional racial discrimination from 1995 through 1998.

          The case had been brought by the Center for Individual Rights in October 1997 on behalf of Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hammacher. Gratz and Hammacher had applied to the University of Michigan's undergraduate College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts ("LSA") in 1995 and 1997, respectively, and were denied admission, they alleged, because of the University's illegal use of racial preferences to further the number of certain preferred racial minorities at the University.

          In a 50-page ruling released today, Judge Patrick J. Duggan agreed with the plaintiffs' arguments and found that the evidence they submitted was sufficient to rule in their favor without the need of a trial and granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment with respect to the LSA's admissions programs in existence from 1995 through 1998.

          Judge Duggan rejected the arguments from the University's attorneys -- who had mounted a multi-million dollar defense effort on its behalf--that the admissions system the University had operated in those years comported fully with the Supreme Court's 1978 ruling in Bakke v. Regents of University of California, which allowed institutions of higher education, under certain circumstances, to take race into consideration in their admissions process in order to further intellectual diversity.

          Instead the Judge found that there were no facts in dispute concerning how the University operated its admissions process in the years when Gratz and Hammacher applied and that a trial would serve no purpose.

          "[T]he LSA's use of protected seats [for minority candidates] and the LSA's system of automatic rejection [of white candidates] ... when examined in their entirety, fall within the impermissible under the principles enunciated by Justice Powell in Bakke," wrote Judge Duggan. "Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment shall be granted with respect to the LSA's admissions program employed from 1995 through 1998."

          Terence J. Pell, Chief Executive Officer, of the Center for Individuals Rights, which, together with the Minneapolis, MN law firm of Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand, LLP represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit hailed the decision: "The idea that the University of Michigan would have engaged in systematic discrimination against thousands of students who applied to it from 1995-1998 based upon their skin color is outrageous," Pell said. "Judge Duggan is to be commended for seeing through the University's specious arguments and for having convincingly sided with the plaintiffs."

          Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the district court's ruling that there was no need for trial makes a particularly strong case about just how overwhelming the facts were against the University of Michigan for the years 1995 through 1998.

          "Judge Duggan has written a well reasoned opinion that clearly sets outs the facts and the law with respect to the years during which our clients were eligible to be admitted to the University of Michigan ," said lead trial attorney Kirk O. Kolbo. "The University will doubtless appeal this part of the Judge's ruling," he continued, "but we are confident that the Sixth Circuit will affirm it on appeal."

          As a result of the Gratz litigation, University of Michigan was compelled to modify its admissions process several years into the litigation. However attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the changes were insufficient to pass constitutional muster. Accordingly, they expressed disappointment at the first part of Judge Duggan's decision which found that the University's admissions program for the years 1999 and 2000 were constitutional.

          "We continue to believe that public universities have no right under the Equal Protection Clause to engineer a particular racial mix of students," said Mr. Pell. "So, of course, we would have preferred to see the court rule that `diversity' is not a compelling interest that justifies a race-based admissions program. We are considering whether to appeal that portion of his opinion."

          Added Kirk Kolbo, the lead trial attorney in the case: "We're delighted for our clients. But the people of Michigan should be happy only when the courts take the University out of the business of judging applicants on the basis of race."

          CIR is a non-profit, public interest law firm specializing in civil rights and free speech law. CIR is perhaps best known as plaintiffs' counsel in Hopwood v. Texas. For more information about the case, contact Terry Pell at 202-833-8400 x 113, or visit CIR's web site at http://www.cir-usa.org.

1.2 - Law School Case:   Grutter v. Bollinger
Court Rules UM's Law School Race Policy Is Unconstitutional
U Mich Quotas are Crumbling
Last Updated March 27, 2001

          On Tuesday, March 27, 2001 the University of Michigan Law School's race-based admissions policies were ruled unconstitutional.  In his 91 page opinion, U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman disagreed with the university's contention that racial diversity is a "compelling" state interest and described the school's admissions policies as an unconstitutional quota system.

          The law suit was brought by the Center for Individual Rights on behalf of Barbara Grutter whose application to the law school was rejected for the sole reason that she is white.  The case is Grutter v. Bollinger, No. 97-75928 (E.D. Michigan, filed Dec. 3, 1997).

          Mr. Terrence J. Pell, CEO for the Center for Individual Rights, issued the following statement:

          In a stunning victory for the Center for Individual Rights, Judge Bernard Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan yesterday struck down the University of Michigan Law School admissions system designed to shield applicants of different races from direct comparison.

          Friedman rejected nearly every claim advanced by the University of Michigan in support of its racial preference policies.

          He declared that educational diversity is NOT a compelling state interest and that, even if it were, the University of Michigan admissions system is not "narrowly tailored" to achieving that interest. He called the University of Michigan system "indistinguishable from a straight quota system."

[Download Judge Friedman's complete 91 page opinion in Adobe Acrobat format at the following link:

          Together with the December decision in our case against the University of Michigan undergraduate school (Gratz v. Bollinger), Friedman's decision will now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

          CIR's strategy from the beginning has been to get one of our four cases fighting race preferences at state universities before the Supreme Court as soon as possible. Whichever case makes it to the High Court, Judge Friedman's decision greatly strengthens CIR's position. 

          -- Terrence J. Pell, CIR

          CIR is a non-profit, public interest law firm specializing in civil rights and free speech law. CIR is perhaps best known as plaintiffs' counsel in Hopwood v. Texas. For more information about the case, contact Terry Pell at 202-833-8400 x 113, or visit CIR's web site at http://www.cir-usa.org.

Center for Individual Rights
1233 20th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.