The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Payton Declares Victory
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 8/1/2003
John Payton declared the Supreme Court ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger "a resounding victory" that "reaches all of higher education" at a discussion held at the University of D.C. Law School.
The forum was held to debate the impact of the recent Supreme Court rulings in the affirmative action cases Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger in which plaintiffs sued the University of Michigan, claiming its admission policies were discriminatory. Payton was the lead attorney for the University of Michigan in the cases.
Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, introduced Payton, asking, "Who would have thought that the ghost of Thurgood Marshall would come channeling back through Justice Sandra Day O'Connor?"
Payton argued that O'Connor's opinion recognized the overwhelming support for affirmative action by corporate America and the military and the importance of diversity in today's society.
In Payton's opinion, the court's ruling on the undergraduate system should not be seen as an opinion against affirmative action; while it struck down the point system, it also upheld affirmative action at the law school, indicating that affirmative action as a whole had been preserved.
In effect, this ruling has "wiped out the Hopwood decision," Payton said in reference to the 1992 Hopwood v. Texas case. "The President of the University of Texas has said publicly they intend to use race in admissions"
During the question and answer period, Alexander Hamilton, a law student at Howard University, stated, "The University of Michigan has never owned up or professed to a past racialized history. They have simply never taken responsibility for past wrongs. We have to be careful in how we view the outcome of this case because diversity does not mean that racism is over." Payton agreed, but also said, "Let's not fight that. I truly hope we won't need affirmative action in 25 years. We should accept O'Connor's challenge."