"Sit-in at Doubletree Hotel in Madison to protest lawsuit being filed by the Center for Equal Opportunity against the University of Wisconsin, alleging that current admissions policies discriminate against white and Asian students."
ADDED: I'm not the protest type, but I do remember once participating in a protest — marching around in a circle and chanting. The subject was affirmative action. The year was 1970 and the place was the University of Michigan. The chant was "Open it up... or shut it down," and we did shut it down. There was a student strike. (I still have the letters I wrote to my parents explaining why we were striking.) In 1973, the University of Michigan began its affirmative action program. These days, I'm a law professor, and I teach the case in which the Supreme Court found that the program violated the Constitution. Speaking of circles.
And I'm a blogger observing the protests. One observation I have about student protests is that the applicants who don't get in are not around to march and chant. They went somewhere else — perhaps Eau Claire or Whitewater. The university officials last night stressed that every student who is here should feel good about being here, that he or she deserves to be here. Of course, we want everyone who is here to feel great about it. The officials don't see much need to speak to the individuals who were rejected. They're not part of the campus climate. Back in 1970 when we protested at Michigan, we were protesting against our own interest, being altruistic, saying, essentially, maybe we don't deserve to be here. It is important to visualize the effect of a policy on persons who are not present to assert their interests.
If the question is whether the current admission policy is constitutional under the existing Supreme Court case law, we need to examine the details. In its 2003 cases involving the University of Michigan programs, the undergraduate program was found unconstitutional, but the law school's approach was upheld. So, under the current law, it depends on how you do it, and of course, Wisconsin's policy today was shaped with knowledge of that case law.
It should be noted, however, that the Michigan law school program was upheld in a 5-4 decision in which Justice O'Connor provided the decisive vote. I think today's Supreme Court — with Alito replacing O'Connor — would have gone the other way in that case. It remains to be seen what will happen to the lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin. We have yet to see the reports that will be released today and how the university will respond.
Not every controversy is resolved through a lawsuit, of course. For example, California, via proposition, banned the use of race as a factor in admissions. Obviously, Wisconsin has a conservative legislature and governor, but I tend to doubt that they want the mass of trouble that would ensue if they were to propose to end affirmative action by statute. So, I assume there will be a lawsuit, and we shall see what happens.
ADDED: Here is the UW-Madison Chancellor's response, asserting that admissions at UW-Madison are done through "a holistic, competitive and selective process."