Law Students Gather Signatures for Grutter v. Bollinger Amicus Brief
|From left, co-organizer Sarah Baker and third-year Law student Crystal Lovett help gather signatures for a brief supporting diversity as a compelling government interest.|
A group of Law School students have heeded an
unprecedented nationwide call to support affirmative action in
their own backyard by signing onto an amicus brief in the Grutter
v. Bollinger case, the first Supreme Court case to tackle
the legality of affirmative action since Bakke v. Board of
Regents in 1978. Peppered with e-mails from supporters asking
for help, students from more than 80 law schools are now involved
in the drive to gather signatures for the brief, which was written
by Georgetown law students under the supervision of professors
Julie O'Sullivan and Peter Rubin.
"Our point of being here [in law school]
is to learn to argue two sides of an issue," said Law School
drive co-organizer Sarah Baker, a second-year Law student. "It's
hard to do when everybody is arguing from the same point of view."
The Georgetown brief, which argues that the
promotion of diversity in higher education is a compelling governmental
interest, may be unique in Supreme Court history if it gathers
the hoped for 2,000-plus signatures by the end of the month. No
group of students that large has submitted such a brief to the
Court. Third-year Law student Dalton Courson heard about it from
the National Lawyers Guild and volunteered to help organize the
two-day drive, which gathered 88 signatures at the Law School
January 22-23. Courson said more have asked to sign since then.
"I feel like law school is a place where we're talking about issues that impact people's lives," said Courson, president of the Law School National Lawyers Guild chapter.
When he studied Brown v. Board of Education during his first-year Constitutional Law class, "I remember
thinking how important it is that we have people who have different
The Grutter case, scheduled to be heard April
1, revolves around Barbara Grutter, whose 1995 application to
the University of Michigan Law School was rejected. She later
joined two other applicants to sue the school over its admissions
policies, which the plaintiffs assert is essentially a quota system.
Debate over the issue has heated up in recent weeks as President
Bush voiced his opposition to the Michigan policy and Secretary
of State Colin Powell openly disagreed, saying he supports both
the Michigan policy and affirmative action.
"It's pretty controversial here," Courson said. "It's going to affect law students next year."
Third-year Law student Crystal Lovett, who also
helped gather signatures, said it was important that the Justices
hear from current law students. "We are in a position to
know how diversity affects the study of law," she said. "We
have a reason to speak about it that other people may not have."