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College in the courtroom: "Suing Alma Mater"

Michael Olivas' latest book looks at the history of colleges in the courtrooms.

Michael Olivas' book examines the history of higher education in the courtroom. Michael Olivas' book examines the history of higher education in the courtroom.

It took a lot of determination for Michael A. Olivas to comb through every Supreme Court decision from the last 50 years. But he feels he discovered an important pattern in the cases related to higher education — one that he thinks the country should be wary of.

In his latest book — “Suing Alma Mater: Higher Education and the Courts” — Olivas reviews every one of these cases, plus a few important game-changers that never reached the national spotlight.

“The nature of these cases has certainly changed. It’s gone from the old-style civil rights organizations, like the ACLU or the NAACP legal defense fund, to cases brought by predominantly conservative or religious organizations. They believe life has become far too secular, or that the majority group — white people — are being discriminated against,” says Olivas.

The longtime University of Houston professor doesn’t shy away from expressing his views on controversial subjects, and he says this shift in the courts represents a miscarriage of justice.

“I think it’s hard to make a case that Christians are an oppressed minority in the United States,” he says. “They tend to run the country, unlike undocumented Mexican college students or Black students that are discriminated against.”

About the author

Michael A. Olivas is the director of the Institute of Higher Education, Law and Governance at the University of Houston. He is the author of many books, including “No Undocumented Child Left Behind: Plyer v. Doe and the Education of Undocumented Schoolchildren.”

Minority groups still marginalized

“They’re oppressed — and most majority organizations, corporations and wealthy individuals don’t identify with their causes anymore,” he says. “1950 was the last time the Supreme Court took a case involving a minority applicant [to college], but in the meantime they’ve taken at least four where whites are claiming they’ve been discriminated against.”




 
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