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“Preferential affirmative action patronizes American blacks, women, and others by presuming that they cannot succeed on their own. Preferential affirmative action does not advance civil rights in this country.” – Alan Keyes

Smith et al v. University of Washington Law School et al (2004).

Affirmative Action | Affirmative Action Timeline | Cantrell v Granholm | Smith v. University of Washington | Grutter v. Bollinger | Fisher v. Texas | References | Image References

Author: Peter Schmidt
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Color and Money: How Rich White Kids are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action

Smith et al v. University of Washington Law School et al (2004).

Case Overview:

 

The plaintiffs for this case include Katuria Smith, Angela Rock, and Michael Pyle (collectively Smith), and the defendants include the University of Washington Law School and law school admissions. This case was brought to the United States District Court for the western district of Washington, Seattle Division, by a group of Caucasian

students who had previously applied to the University of Washington Law School, but were denied admission, allegedly, due to the racially discriminatory admissions policy employed by the institution between the years of 1994 to December 1998. The admissions policy at the University of Washington Law School confirms that the race of an applicant was taken into consideration during the admissions process in an attempt to ensure the enrollment of a diverse student body, however these factors were taken into account among other non-racial diversity factors as well. It was also noted that the Law School did not set any racial quotas or target goals for admissions (Smith et al. v. University of Washington Law School  et. al, 2004).

 

The plaintiff argues that the admissions policy employed by the University of Washington Law School from 1994 to 1998 violated the equal protection cause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, in which the plaintiff should not have been discriminated against by a state funded institution on the basis of race. As a result, Smith attempted to charge University of Washington Law School against violating title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits any program or activity from receiving federal funding if it is found that the program has been discriminating against race, color, or national origin (Smith et al. v. University of Washington Law School et al, 2004).

 

The defendant argued that the University of Washington Law School Admissions had simply followed the "Harvard Plan" of admissions. The Harvard Plan of admissions accounts for race, among other factors in a competitive process (Smith et. al v. University of Washington Law School et. al., 2004). The Grutter v. Bollinger  t al. case was cited in this case as an example of how race and ethnicity are considered "plus factors" along with unique talents, experiences, and other potentials to contribute to the learning community (Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003). Further, the University of California v. Bakke case in 1978 had determined that race could be accounted for in the admissions process as long as other "soft variables" were also considered in the decision making after standardize test scores and entrance GPAs (University of California v. Bakke, 1978).

 

It was decided that the University of Washington Law School could consider race and ethnicity into the admissions process in the interest of creating educational diversity in the program. The Court used the Grutter case as an example of how tailoring admissions is constitutional when all "plus factors" are taken into account (Smith et al. v. University of Washington Law School et. al., 2004).

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