Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Racial Preferences Case
On December 2, 2002 the United States Supreme Court announced that it will decide whether a state university’s use of racial and ethnic preferences during the admission’s process violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court will review a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld the University of Michigan’s use of such preferences.
The case, Grutter v. Bollinger, marks the first time the Court has weighed in on the issue of preferences in higher education since its 1978 ruling in Regents of the Univ. of Calif. v. Bakke. In Bakke, four justices said that an affirmative action program at the University of California at Davis, which set aside a certain number of spots in each medical school class for minorities, violated federal law; four other justices said that a state university may lawfully use racial and ethnic quotas. The deciding vote in Bakke came from the late Justice Lewis F. Powell, who wrote in his own separate opinion that quotas are constitutionally impermissible, but that the use of race or ethnicity as a “plus factor” in the pursuit of diversity might withstand scrutiny in some cases.
Since 1978, educational institutions have relied on Powell’s opinion to fashion their affirmative action programs. The Grutter case asks the justices to consider whether promoting “diversity” in higher education can ever constitute a “compelling” state interest sufficient to pass constitutional muster, and, if so, whether the programs at issue here are “narrowly tailored” to support this interest.
Earlier in the year, IWF, along with the American Civil Rights Institute and the Center for Equal Opportunity, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court, urging the Court to take up the case.
Source: Miscellaneous press reports (December 2002) : Miscellaneous press reports (December 2002)
Deceased Husband’s Lover Forced to Compensate Wife
Kathie O’Keefe, who spent 20 years as the mistress of married man, has been ordered to compensate her now-deceased lover’s wife for gifts given to her by the dead man during the two decades they spent together. When the man, Jack McCarthy, died a year and a half ago at age 78, O’Keefe made a claim against his estate. She wanted a watch and ring he had given her, and the $200,000 she said he promised her. In response, McCarthy’s wife counter-sued, invoking an obscure 90-year-old Washington law, which prevents one spouse from gifting community property to an individual without the consent of the other spouse. The court held that O’Keefe must account for all the gifts and money her lover gave her — and pay it all back in cash. O’Keefe’s lawyer has condemned the ruling, arguing that it exposes every extra-marital partner in the area to serious financial risk.
Discrimination on the Basis of Body-piercing?
In a recently filed federal lawsuit, former Costco employee Kimberly Cloutier alleges that the superstore giant violated federal prohibitions against religious discrimination when it fired her for refusing to conform with its dress code, which includes a ban on facial piercings. Cloutier, who has a number of body piercings, including an eyebrow ring, claims membership in the Church of Body Modification, “an interfaith church whose members practice an assortment of ancient body modification rituals, which [they] believe are essential to [their] spiritual salvation.” Cloutier claims that her body piercings help to “unite her mind, body and soul.” In May, 2002 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that Costco had “probably violated religious discrimination laws” when it fired her. Because the company did not rehire her following the EEOC ruling, Cloutier has filed a $2 million lawsuit in federal court.
Source: Springfield (Massachusetts) Union-News (October 16, 2002) via Center for Individual Freedom, www.cfif.org
Student Sues Harvard Over Sexual Assault Policy
A student at Harvard College has filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, charging that Harvard’s new sexual assault policy, which requires students to provide evidence of sexual misconduct before administrators investigate, violates Title IX. The student, who has not revealed her name, is a member of a student group called the Coalition against Sexual Violence. The complaint charges that Harvard’s policy discriminates against sexual assault victims–usually women–by closing their avenues for grievance and by requiring corroboration that is often impossible to obtain.
Source: Women’s E-news (www.womensenews.org) (December 8, 2002) : Women’s E-news (www.womensenews.org) (December 8, 2002)
Quotas for Arab Women
In early November, feminists from around the Arab world met in Jordan for a Women’s Summit. Among other issues on the agenda, delegates promoted their effort to convince Arab governments to adopt quotas for women in parliament. The Christian Science Monitor quotes Rima Khalaf, director of the United Nations Development Program Regional Bureau for Arab States , and a conference attendee, as saying, “We are calling for quotas for Arab deputies. . . It is too difficult to wait for incremental changes — we need affirmative action to leapfrog women to power.” The delegates, who hailed from 18 Arab states, called on Arab regimes to follow the lead of Morocco, which guarantees 10 percent of its 325 parliamentary seats to women. In Morocco’s fall elections, the number of elected female parliamentarians soared from two to 35 — a record in the Arab world.