Swing Dance

Swing Dance

Justice O'Connor and the Michigan Muddle

Author: Robert Zelnick
ISBN: 978-0-8179-4522-0
Publication Date: 5/10/2004
Pages: 190

Ever since her 1981 nomination to the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has consistently provided the "swing vote" between a four-justice bloc of liberals and a four-justice bloc of conservatives. Rarely in the minority on any case, her position in 5–4 splits has usually prevailed.

Swing Dance looks at her key role in the 2003 controversial University of Michigan affirmative action cases, which spelled out a new approach to how race may be used in admissions. These contentious decisions preserved affirmative action but applied it less strictly, without assigning any numerical advantage, or extra points, to minority applicants, as Michigan had done in the past. Many now believe they will serve as a model for how other public universities can seek to create diverse campuses in a constitutionally permissible way.

With a journalist's eye for detail, author Robert Zelnick explores the backgrounds of the key figures in the case and examines significant past court rulings by both Justice O'Connor and others—providing an account of Justice O'Connor's subtle change in opinion on the abortion issue and how it foreshadowed her ultimate position on affirmative action. He also offers a blow-by-blow description of the daily argument in the Michigan cases, including detailed accounts of exchanges among the justices, the attorneys, and the witnesses. Zelnick concludes with a deft summation of the aftermath and repercussions of the case to date and explains how the University of Michigan adapted its admissions program to fit the specific requirements of the Court's ruling.

Robert Zelnick, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of national and international affairs at Boston University.


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Robert Zelnick

Robert Zelnick, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and chairman of the Department of Journalism at Boston University.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS


 

Acknowledgments

ix

1

The Swing Justice

1

2

Affirmative Action Before O'Connor

11

3

O'Connor and the Employment Cases

27

4

O'Connor in Command

51

5

The Percentage Plans

67

6

The Michigan Case

93

7

The Sixth Circuit

121

8

Argument

133

9

Decision

151

10

After Michigan

179

 

Index

199


The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the thirty-first president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic and international affairs. The views expressed in its publications are entirely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, officers, or Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution.

www.hoover.org

Hoover Institution Press Publication No. 528

Copyright ©2004 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.

First printing 2004

10 09 08 07 06 05 04 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Manufactured in the United States of America

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Zelnick, Robert, 1940–
Swing dance : Justice O’Connor and the Michigan muddle / by Robert Zelnick.
p. cm. — (Hoover Institution Press publication ; no. 528)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-8179-4522-9 (alk. paper)
1. O’Connor, Sandra Day, 1930– 2. United States. Supreme Court.
3. Universities and colleges—Admission—Law and legislation—Michigan.
4. Discrimination in education—Law and legislation—Michigan.
5. Affirmative action programs—Law and legislation—Michigan.
I. Title. II. Hoover Institution Press publication ; 528.

KF8742.Z44 2004

344.73.0798—dc22 2004001433

Robert Zelnick, an Emmy Award–winning journalist, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and chair of the Department of Journalism at Boston University.

 



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