President Bush announced yesterday that his administration would file a brief in the Supreme Court supporting the lawsuit of white students against the University of Michigan's admission policy, which considers race, along with geography, test scores, grades, and a host of other personal achievements. Michigan's admissions policy was found constitutional by lower courts and is based on prior Supreme Court decisions regarding the use of race in admissions decisions.
The Michigan policy, like that used by many universities and graduate schools, recognizes the importance of diversity in the student body of a school, both to improve the learning environment and to ensure that the school is training leaders for all of society. The plan as described by Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan, is as follows:
“In our undergraduate admissions system, fully 110 points out of 150 are given for academic factors including grades, test scores and curriculum. We only count 12 points for test scores, but that is because we value high school grades to a much greater extent—they can earn up to 80 points. We consider many other factors as well. Race is one of those, but a student who is socioeconomically disadvantaged also can earn 20 points (students cannot earn 20 points for both factors, however). Geographic diversity is also important, and a student from Michigan’s upper peninsula, for example, earns 16 points. We also consider leadership, service, and life experiences, among other elements.”
"Coming right after the Trent Lott debacle," Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal stated, "this decision clearly shows exactly where the Bush administration stands on issues of race—all spin and the same old southern strategy of courting white votes." Highlighting the administration's anti-civil rights, the President's announcement was made on Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday. Smeal noted that several Republican Senators, Arlen Spector of Pennsylvannia, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine wrote a public letter to the President urging him to support the University of Michigan. In the end, however, the President ignored the moderates of his party.
Women have made gains in employment and education because of affirmative action. If we lose affirmation action on the basis of race, we will eventually lose it on the basis of gender. Remember the administration is also attacking Title IX, the law that guarantees women equality in federally funded education,” Smeal noted. A Bush-appointed commission currently reviewing Title IX is about to vote to reduce sports opportunities for girls.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .