We talked to Kirk Kolbo, who represents the plaintiffs in the University of Michigan race-discrimination cases that were argued this morning in the Supreme Court. Here are Kirk’s comments, exclusive to Power Line:
Generally, Kirk thought the arguments went well. There was something of a circus atmosphere, with around 15,000 demonstrators outside the building, and such luminaries as Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy and Terry McAuliffe in the gallery.
Not surprisingly, Justice Scalia participated actively, both questioning the University’s lawyers aggressively and stepping in with a friendly question of his own to fend off hostile questions directed at Kirk.
The UPI report on the arguments, which we linked to earlier, quotes a question directed to Kirk by Justice O’Connor–very likely the decisive vote–that seemed troubling, in that she noted the Court had upheld “using race in certain contexts” and that such matters are not “absolutes.” Kirk was not concerned about this exchange; he told Justice O’Connor that the plaintiffs do not question the cases that say race can be taken into account to remedy past discrimination. In these cases, the plaintiffs’ argument is that “diversity” is not a compelling state interest that can justify race discrimination.
Kirk was encouraged that Justice O’Connor raised with the University’s lawyer the fact that the “diversity” rationale never ends, and may justify discimination forever. The lawyer responded by expressing the hope that “some day” racial preferences may no longer be necessary. The prospect of permanent race preferences has troubled Justice O’Connor in other cases.
Kirk has worked on these cases for years, investing untold hours of top-quality legal work. He deserves immense credit for his untiring efforts; we hope they will be crowned with success.
The drawing below is an artist’s rendition of Kirk arguing before the Court.
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