The article by former Michigan state representative Greg Kaza concerning the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the University of Michigan race-preference cases (“Michigan’s Race Factor,” Vital Signs, October) is dreadfully misleading.  Kaza would have us believe that an important victory in the struggle against race-based preferences had been won.

Quite the opposite is true.  The decisions in the two Michigan cases make the situation much worse.  Justice O’Connor’s opinion, representing the majority view, allows the substitution of easily abused subjective judgments for what had been flagrantly discriminatory (but objective) standards favoring “underrepresented” minorities.  Professor Carl Cohen had published unchallenged proof that Michigan has, in the past, lied to conceal its unconstitutional admissions policies.  Under the new standards, the university will find it simple to conceal its admissions sins.  Further, the diversity argument offered by the university is only an expedient and unsupported opinion.

I suggest that your readers contact Mr. Terry Pell, director of the Center for Individual Rights, to get a full and objective view of the implications of the Supreme Court’s position.

        —Richard L Cutler, former professor of psychology and vice president,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI

Mr. Kaza Replies:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s split ruling is not a cause for pessimism.  It serves as a reminder that advocates of limited government can still win a case before the highest court in the land.

Was it “dreadfully misleading” to report that the Court’s decision in Gratz v. Bollinger struck down the University of Michigan’s use of a race-based point system, while noting the Court’s upholding of U of M’s use of diversity in Grutter v. Bollinger?  Readers should heed the good professor’s suggestion and consult the Center for Individual Rights’ website, where the following explanation appears under the heading, “Supreme Court strikes down Michigan’s 20-point system”: “On June 23, 2003, the Supreme Court struck down Michigan’s undergraduate admissions system, which awarded 20 points to minority applicants in the admissions process—out of a possible 150—based solely on their skin color.  The court, however, upheld the University of Michigan’s law school admissions policy which assigns no numerical value to an application based on his or her race, but weighs race significantly in the admissions process.”

My essay noted that the Court struck down U of M’s policy in Gratz while upholding it in Grutter.

A June 23 CIR press release quotes Mr. Pell: “Today’s mixed verdict is ultimately bad news for those who would uphold preferences,” he said.  “It is just another in a long series of verdicts that are whittling away at the flawed logic of race-based preferences.”

Limited-government advocates can ultimately prevail on this issue if they continue building the broad-based coalition that, against overwhelming odds, prevailed against U of M in Gratz.