In a win for affirmative action, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the University of Michigan Law School could consider race as a factor in making admissions decisions. The 5-4 decision reversed a lower court’s ruling that found the law school’s policy to be discriminatory. Three white students who had been denied admission to the school filed the suit claiming that they had been discriminated against because of their race. The University of Michigan Law School uses race as one of several factors, including academics and economic status, to determine admission. According to the school, race must be considered in order to maintain diversity, which adds to the educational experience at the school. The Sixth Circuit sided with the school saying that, “the law school has a compelling state interest in achieving a diverse student body.” The court is now considering a separate case contesting the use of race in the University of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions.
Legal experts have speculated that the University of Michigan case could be used by the US Supreme Court to illustrate the potential boundaries of using race and affirmative action policies in university admissions. Neither party in the current case has offered comments.