Sunday, June 22, 2003

Some Virginia schools can't wait a week, changing policies for fear of personal liability

This AP report details that Virginia Tech has been making changes in some of its programs to avoid racial preferences, motivated in part by the board members' fear of personal liability, even though the Supreme Court will almost surely issue its opinion(s) in the University of Michigan cases before the end of this week (in time for Chief Justice Rehnquist to attend the Fourth Circuit judicial conference, as reported here in the New York Times, which says the unofficial end of the Supreme Court term these days "is the annual conference of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, for which Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist serves as the circuit justice. He never misses it, and is to go to the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., on June 26.").

Whoever is telling the board members that they can be liable didn't pay much attention to all that has been written about the ambiguity of the Bakke decision, the fundamental inability among lawyers and judges to know the law of affirmative action, which is what makes the Michigan cases such big news - that ambiguity in the law is what would seem likely to guarantee a qualified immunity defense for any state actor sued in his or her individual capacity regarding racial preferences in admissions.

No comments: