UW Law School justified in race-based admissions


Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court ruled Monday the University of Washington Law School acted legally when it considered the race of applicants in its now-abandoned admission policy.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision means publicly funded schools throughout the circuit, which includes most western states, can continue to use affirmative action programs, said Dan Tokaji, staff attorney for the USC chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which supported the university in its case.

Regardless, the ruling will not affect current admissions in Washington and California, where voters have banned race considerations in admission policies, he said.

The lawsuit was brought by Katuria Smith, Angela Rock and Michael Pyle, who say they were denied admission to the region’s largest and most prestigious law school because they are white.

Michael Rosman, a lawyer for the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit agency that opposes affirmative action and represented the trio, said his clients "still want damages for having been subjected to discrimination when they were applying."

Two of the three attended different schools and paid higher tuition than they would have paid at the University of Washington, he said.

Monday’s ruling cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1978 Bakke vs. University of California decision, in which the high court struck down the use of racial quotas in school admissions but allowed schools to consider race in deciding which students to accept.

The ruling puts the 9th Circuit in direct conflict with the 5th Circuit court, which includes Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

In 1996, a three-judge panel of that court ruled in favor of four white students who sued the University of Texas, saying its law school did not admit them because of their race. The ruling led to an injunction banning universities from using race as a factor in admission policies.

"We are well aware of the fact that much has happened since Bakke was handed down," said Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, writing for a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit. "Since that time, the court has not looked upon race-based factors with much favor. Still, it has not returned to the area of university admissions."

Rosman said his clients haven’t decided whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They say that while the university’s admissions policy may have been constitutional, it also may have been applied incorrectly.

But David J. Burman, the university’s lawyer, said the students do not have much of a case.

"We’re optimistic that, at some point, they’ll choose to drop it," he said.

A message was not immediately returned from the assistant attorney general’s office in Seattle representing the University of Washington.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.