As crowds of students and activists gathered outside of the Supreme Court today, justices heard arguments in a case challenging the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy. The Court is hearing two related cases in which white student applicants charged they were unconstitutionally denied admission because of their race: Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. The affirmative action policy has drawn wide support from a range of groups, including high-ranking military officials, Fortune 500 companies, and the civil and women's rights community. More than 100 amicus briefs have been filed in the case, including a brief from the Bush administration siding with the students.
The students were represented by attorneys from the conservative advocacy group Center for Individual Rights, which claims that Michiganís policy of using race as a factor in admissions violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination by federally funded institutions, and/or the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which grants all citizens equal treatment under the law. The University of Michigan contends that its policy supports the creation of a diverse student body, which benefits all students, according to the Associated Press.
The Supreme Courtís last ruling regarding affirmative action, the 5-4 Bakke decision in 1978, upheld the use of race as a "plus factor" in admission but outlawed the use of "racial quotas." President Bush has consistently referred to Michiganís policy as "a quota system," mischaracterizing Michiganís more individualized policy that takes many factors into account, according to civil rights activist and lawyer Lani Guinier, writing in The Nation. "The strategy of the Administration is to 'quotify' any aspect of the admissions process that dares notice the race of applicants," Guinier says in The Nation. Two reports released last month found that alternatives to affirmative action, including the "race-neutral" policies supported by the Bush administration, are ineffective at promoting racial diversity.
Civil rights groups participated in a rally this morning at the Supreme Court, followed by a march to the Lincoln Memorial. Last night, students and community members at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, DC, organized a rally that featured poets, scholars, activists, and policymakers speaking out for affirmative action.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 3/31/03; Associated Press 4/1/03; Christian Science Monitor 3/31/03; The Nation 2/10/03; Feminist Daily News Wire
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. . . .