Howard University Law Students’ Press Release


For over 100 years Howard University School of Law has been a leader in seeking to assure equal access to education for all.  Howard Law opened its doors in 1869 with the goal of ensuring that any student, regardless of race, gender, or national origin, seeking a legal education would be afforded that opportunity.  It then trained those students to use the law to nullify the laws, rules, regulations, and human conduct that barred individuals, especially African Americans, from exercising their civil rights.  The Deans, faculty, students, and alumni of Howard Law were pivotal in ending de jure segregation in education at the graduate, undergraduate, secondary, and grade school levels.  And Howard Law’s role of ensuring equal access continues with the filing of an amicus brief on behalf of the Howard University Law Students in support of the University of Michigan, the respondents in Grutter v. Bollinger.


Brilliant lawyers like alumnus and Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, learned to practice the law and strategize by working on real briefs for real cases with Howard law faculty and Deans such as Charles Hamilton Houston.  Usually, the faculty takes the lead.  In 2003 the tradition changed.  Four students Hillary Browne, Danielle Conley, Nadine Jones Francis, and Robin Konrad organized themselves to draft an amicus brief on behalf of the Howard University Law Students with the supervision of three of the law school’s distinguished legal writing professors, Patricia A. Broussard, Gwendolyn Roberts Majette, and Gregory Alan Berry.


The amicus brief on behalf of Howard University Law Students is written from a unique perspective:  It recognizes that the United States is becoming increasingly diverse; it recognizes the importance of being able work in a multicultural society; and it recognizes the centrality of diversity to a law school’s ability to set the American educational and social agenda, particularly as it affects underrepresented communities.  Most importantly, it emphasizes the continuing need to promote civil rights and racial diversity in higher education and in the workplace.


In its brief, Howard University Law Students urge the Supreme Court to affirm the Sixth Circuits’ ruling that the University of Michigan Law School’s race-conscious admissions program serves the compelling governmental interest of attaining a diverse student body and is narrowly tailored to achieve that objective.


According to the brief, a university’s consideration of race in an effort to obtain diversity in the classroom is one of the special circumstances in which the Constitution permits the use of racial classifications.  Diversity is a constitutionally compelling interest because it not only v furthers the goal of societal integration that the Supreme Court articulated in Brown, but also provides students who have lived in racial isolation prior to entering college with the opportunity to interact with students of different races.  In addition, diversity in the law school classroom fosters an environment in which misconceptions regarding race can be challenged and dispelled.   When law students are exposed to a variety of perspectives, they are better prepared to relate to and to empathize with racially and culturally diverse clients.  Diversity also promotes harmonious relationships between minority and non-minority attorneys, which will likely improve minority retention in the public and private sectors.  Finally, racial diversity is a compelling governmental interest because race-neutral alternatives do not achieve the goal of assembling a student body that will accurately reflect the increasing diversity of the United States.