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federal judge in Detroit denied a request from the University of Michigan Law School yesterday that he delay his ruling that the school illegally considers race in selecting students, throwing this year's admissions process into turmoil.
The law school, one of the nation's most competitive, had sent out 830 offers of admission before last week's ruling by the judge, Bernard A. Friedman of Federal District Court.
The school typically accepts about 1,000 applicants for a class of 350 students, and April is crunch time, with students expected to enroll, and send deposits, by month's end.
Judge Friedman's decision last week included an injunction against the law school's affirmative action admissions program, but administrators at the school hoped that he would grant a routine suspension of the injunction while the ruling was on appeal.
In rejecting that request today, the judge wrote, "Defendants are not irreparably harmed by an injunction that requires them to comply with the Constitution."
"Even if a higher court rules that assembling a racially diverse class can be a compelling state interest, defendants cannot overcome the overwhelming evidence that their use of race is not narrowly tailored to the achievement of that interest," he added.
The university said it would ask the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, to grant the delay that Judge Friedman rejected.
Meanwhile, the law school is not making any more admissions offers, because its old system has been declared unconstitutional, and, administrators say, they do not have time to devise a new approach that ignores race.
Letters of acceptance from the law schools at Harvard and Stanford and New York University are probably already landing in the mailboxes of the most highly sought applicants.
"It's very disruptive," Liz Barry, the deputy general counsel at Michigan, said of the injunction. "We really want to get as good a class for the fall as possible. This is really hurting our chances."