The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 23, 2012, 5:47 pm
John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, died on Thursday at the age of 65 after a brief illness. Among his work as a civil-rights lawyer, Mr. Payton defended the University of Michigan’s affirmative-action policy, arguing the Gratz v. Bollinger case, involving the university’s undergraduate admissions policy, before the Supreme Court. The court ruled against the university in that 2003 case. But, in a companion case involving the university’s law school, it upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions when policies are narrowly tailored to achieve educational benefits that flow from diversity. Just last month, however, the court agreed to hear another case, Fisher v. Texas, that some experts say may result in the demise of racial-conscious college admissions.
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