UW Law School applicants
appeal discrimination ruling

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Three white applicants denied entry to the University of Washington School of Law asked a federal appeals court yesterday to overturn an earlier decision ruling out discrimination.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly ruled in 2002 that Katuria Smith, Angela Rock and Michael Pyle were not entitled to damages even though the law school was then using race as a factor in admissions.

That practice, while upheld by the courts, ended in Washington state in 1998 when voters passed Initiative 200.

But lawyers working for the Center for Individual Rights are still seeking damages for the plaintiffs. They also want a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that clarifies a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year in a similar case involving the University of Michigan.

Oral arguments in the UW case were held yesterday in Seattle. A decision is expected later this year.

In June, the high court ruled that Michigan's law school had properly used race as a factor in admissions, but decided that the university's points-based system for undergraduate admissions was illegal.

The three plaintiffs in the UW case had became poster children for the pro-I-200 campaign, which prohibits the consideration of gender or race in admissions, hiring or contracting.