ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN -- The Supreme Court finally agreed this week to hear Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, two lawsuits challenging the use of race in the admissions policies of both the University of Michigan and its law school. The cases have been pegged as candidates for certiorari since they were filed in the 1997, in response to the 5th Circuit's decision in Hopwood v. Texas, which struck down the University of Texas' law school admissions policy.
The Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), an anti-affirmative action group run by former Reagan/Bush assistant attorney general Roger Clegg and labor secretary nominee-for-a-week Linda Chavez, has released yet another report on the "widespread" and "appalling" use of racial preferences in higher-education admissions. Previous reports have attacked admissions policies at numerous state universities and medical schools; this one goes after three partially publicly funded Virginia law schools: the University of Virginia, William & Mary, and George Mason.
Everything might seem to be going according to plan for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Their charge, promised when they assumed committee control last spring, was nothing less than to "save the federal judiciary" from a right-wing takeover (and hence preserve what People for the American Way president Ralph Neas has characterized as "seven decades of constitutional, legal, and social justice progress"). Senator Patrick Leahy's committee has already shown it can stall: Almost no "A list" Bush nominees have received hearings. With the upcoming rejection of the nomination of Charles Pickering for the 5th Circuit, the committee will prove it can "kill" nominations as well.
Shortly after 9/11, a strange, frenzied linguistic debate seemed to leap, almost fully formed, into the public discourse. At issue was whether the terrorist attacks should be considered "criminal acts" or "acts of war." Arrayed on one side were diplomatically cautious liberals and Europeans, who thought the "crime" nomenclature would keep moderate Muslim nations on board and better prepare the public for the conflict ahead; they were joined by legal scholars who warned the domestic and international criminal justice system was better suited to this kind of twilight struggle. On the other side stood a group of conservative analysts who deemed the "war" locution a crucial strategic and historic choice.
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt didn't mention the idea of rolling back last year's slanted tax cuts in his follow-up to the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Not very surprising. Both of the members of his party's leadership who have dared broach the issue thus far -- Senator Edward Kennedy and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle -- have come under considerable fire for doing so, both from the usual Republican loyalists and the larger mainstream media.