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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Landmark Supreme Court Decision Involving University of Michigan

Aired June 23, 2003 - 10:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We're also keeping close watch on this breaking story from the nation's capitol outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Our Bob Franken is there with a landmark decision involving the University of Michigan -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two decisions which somewhat take the luster off any landmark affirmative action decisions. In the case of the undergraduate program at the University of Michigan, a point system, which the school no longer uses, that accorded a certain number of points because a person was minority did not pass muster be; it violated the quota prohibition. The other case, which had a less specific admissions policy that favored minorities to some degree, the law school case was allowed because the policy of giving race consideration was, in fact, one of the things that could be used.

Now we're talking with the president of the University of Michigan, President Mary Sue Coleman. You're not unhappy at all with the confusion over this.

MARY SUE COLEMAN, UNIV. OF MICHIGAN, PRESIDENT: This is a wonderful, wonderful day, a victory for all of higher education, because it means at its core that affirmative action may still be used, and the court's given us a road map to get there. So we're very, very excited and very pleased.

FRANKEN: Allow me to ask about some of the questions that are bound to come up, and that is the belief that what the court did was give you a road map of what could not be used, such as the point system, et cetera.

COLEMAN: What the court told us that the law school system that we use is perfectly legal. They upheld it completely. And so in that sense, they've given us a road map for changing our undergraduate system, and so we're so happy, because the central principle is affirmative action may be used, and that's what we were fighting for.

FRANKEN: And what does Michigan do now? Where do you go from here? You have to come up with some sort of program.

COLEMAN: We'll do that. We'll start working right away, and go back a devise a system for the undergraduate procedures, but we couldn't be happier. This is a great day for higher education.

FRANKEN: What about those on the other side who are going to say, what it does, though, is it puts the brakes on some affirmative action programs, such as the one that your university used to use. COLEMAN: We've always said that we can change process. The point that we've been fighting for and arguing for is the use of affirmative action. The court said you may use affirmative action. That is what's important.

FRANKEN: So the next step is to come up with another way?

COLEMAN: Exactly. And we'll do that.

FRANKEN: So in any case, the University of Michigan is at the focus of this, but it's a case that covers everything from the workplace to education, et cetera, part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

From your point of view, I guess congratulations are in order, though I can assure you the other states are going to say they won a victory also. This is typical Supreme Court decision on a controversial matter. Fredricka, it's going to be chewed over and interpreted every which way until the end of time, or at least until the next Supreme Court case decision -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, Bob, still another case we're watching from the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision that would involve the sodomy law in Texas. I understand that that decision may be rendered possibly Thursday at best?

FRANKEN: That's the next time that the court is going to meet, and it's probably a good bet to expect that. That's a case which questions, number one, the right of states to regulate the types of sexual acts that somebody can perform. There's an '86 decision which says states can make sodomy illegal. This is about a Texas case, though, and the Texas law specifically says sex involving homosexuals.

So the two issues are one, will all the sodomy laws be overturned? Two, will it be selective prosecution of homosexuals be overturned? The third possibility is that all of that will be upheld. That is a decision we won't get until later in the week -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Bob Franken, thanks very much, from the Supreme Court.

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