Minorities May Join Race Bias Lawsuits

DETROIT--Supporters of affirmative action won a court ruling yesterday allowing them to argue in possibly precedent-setting lawsuits why the University of Michigan should consider race when picking its students.

The 2-1 ruling from a federal appeals court came in class action lawsuits filed by three white applicants turned down by the University of Michigan.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said lower courts erred when they barred 58 individuals--most of them minority students at Michigan--and four groups from joining the school in fighting the lawsuits.

Lawyers for the minorities say they want to raise questions that Michigan won't. They say they would argue that the university discriminated against minorities in the past, and that the administration relies on racially biased standardized tests.

Michigan welcomed the minority students' participation in the lawsuits, but lawyers for the white students fought it, saying the groups would raise too many outside issues and delay the trials.

The appeals court's opinion said the groups met the legal burden for joining the case as defendants, and that they could be harmed if Michigan loses.

"There is little room for doubt that access to the University for African American and Latino/a students will be impaired to some extent and that a substantial decline in the enrollment of these students may well result if the University is precluded from considering race as a factor in admissions," the court said.

The three white applicants say Michigan's affirmative action admissions policies discriminated against them. They say they were denied admission while the university admitted minorities with lower grades and test scores.

The university says it fairly uses race in admissions to create a diverse student body, and that if it could not use race, the minority student population would plunge.

Coast Guard Officers Won't Be Disciplined

MIAMI--Eight U.S. Coast Guard officers who tried to stop a group of Cuban migrants at sea with fire hoses and pepper spray were acting on orders and within policy and will be not be disciplined, a Coast Guard official said.

Rear Adm. Thad Allen said at a news conference that a month-long Coast Guard investigation found that the use of pepper spray and hoses to stop six Cubans from reaching shore was "inappropriate," but that because the officers acted on orders and within Coast Guard policy, they will be reinstated to interdiction duty.

The incident on June 29 in Atlantic waters just off Surfside, Fla., was broadcast live on television and outraged Miami's large Cuban American community.

"While the use of pepper spray and fire hoses on the migrants in the water was, after an in-depth review, found to be inappropriate and moreover ineffective, those officers acted in accordance with the direction they were previously given," Allen said.

The eight officers were suspended from law enforcement duty after the confrontation but remained on active patrol. Allen said he had ordered them reinstated to law enforcement, which includes the interdiction of migrants at sea.