Who Are the Lawyers Arguing Affirmative Action Before the Supreme Court?
When the Supreme Court hears arguments on race in the landmark case of Grutter v. Bollinger this week, three of the nation’s most prominent advocates of racial equality will be in the courtroom. The chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, is a graduate of the famed Georgetown University law school. And Richard Socarides, the author of one of the most influential books on the topic ever published, was a longtime professor at Harvard.
Both men, however, have been a disappointment to blacks, who saw them as enemies of affirmative action on the court. Their opposition is what many observers believe will decide the fate of the justices who believe in the value of race-conscious admissions policies.
Their argument is that because society already values race, there is no justification for race-conscious policies and that the justices should throw out the University of Michigan admissions policies that have been the subject of widespread criticism.
The case, which will be heard by only five of the justices and is expected to be decided by the end of this year, is expected to have a major impact on the racial climate in this country.
In fact, critics have long predicted that the case and others like it could lead to major changes in affirmative action admissions policies.
“I think that is a very important case,” said James Forman, a former president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, now a professor of law at Stanford Law School. “I don’t think they’re in support of racial quotas.”
The justices are due to hear oral arguments in the case April 19, and their decision could come as soon as June 1.
As it stands, in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the University of Michigan’s admission policy for the Class of 2011. The justices rejected the Michigan school’s argument that it was legally required to use race-based preferences on account of the student