Colbert I. King ["Scapegoat Syndrome," op-ed, April 5] and Free for All contributor William H. Gray III ["Building a Better Student Body"] took Jennifer Gratz, the white student who sued the University of Michigan over its affirmative action policy, to task for limiting her legal challenge to the minority racial preferences in that policy and not including the university's other preferences.
King wrote that "more than 1,500 students with grade-point averages and SAT scores lower than Gratz's got into the school" (King's italics), but she "didn't kick up a fuss about [them]."
Gray wrote that Gratz also should have sued the university over the legacy, VIP and other preferences that allowed it to admit "dozens of [other] white applicants . . . with lower SAT scores and grade-point averages than she had."
Putting aside the apparent discrepancy between King's "more than 1,500" and Gray's "dozens," both propositions are legally unsound and unfairly besmirch Gratz. No matter what the final decision may be, there clearly is a viable argument that the part of the university's preference policy that is based on race violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. On the other hand, there is no viable argument that the other preferences in the university's policy violate the Constitution. For King and Gray to suggest otherwise is not only unjust to Gratz but also tends to undermine their credibility as advocates. This could, in the public eye, detract from the soundness of arguments that support the racially based part of the university's policy that are more firmly based in law.
If King and Gray really object to the racially disparate effect of the alumni and other preferences to which they refer, they could propose legislation to bar those preferences. Suggesting that they be attacked as unconstitutional through a lawsuit, however, is legally in error.
-- Jonathan Strong