Reverse Discrimination Suit Aimed at UW Law School

UW graduate Katuria E. Smith, '94, filed a lawsuit against the UW law school March 5, claiming that she was a victim of racial discrimination when she was denied admission in the fall of 1994.

Smith, who is white, is scheduled to graduate from the Seattle University law school this spring. She said that when she applied to the UW law school, she had scores in the 95th percentile on the Law School Admission Test and a 3.65 G.P.A.

In 1994 the UW law school received more than 2,500 applications for a class of about 155 students. The suit alleges that the law school "used different admission standards based on each student's self-identified race."

In a written statement, Law School Dean Roland Hjorth said he could not comment directly on the case, but he reaffirmed the school's commitment to diversity. "The different perspectives brought to the educational experience of students from varying backgrounds and experiences enrich the educational environment and prepare students to live and work in an increasingly diverse society," he said.

He added that diversity is "one of many factors considered in reviewing applications. Our policy has been carefully reviewed and crafted to be consistent with the law of the land, as established in a U.S. Supreme Court case commonly referred to as the Bakke decision. We are confident the policy will withstand careful legal scrutiny and we intend to defend it vigorously in this case."

Smith is getting help from the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington, D.C. group active in several anti-affirmative-action cases. Its most famous lawsuit was the 1996 Hopwood v. Texas ruling, where a federal court declared the University of Texas law school had illegally used one admissions committee for black and Mexican-American candidates and a different committee all other candidates. The court also declared the different minimum standards Texas set for the two applicant groups illegal.

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