Interview with Robert Links

Now when you give us Colvin's opening lines, can you also give us a sense of what your strategy was?


As dramatic as Archibald Cox's opening was, I think Reynold Colvin's opening was equally dramatic, and I think ever more powerful because he said was, "The first thing I must say to this court is that I am Alan Bakke's lawyer and Alan Bakke is my client." And the strategy and the thinking was that the most effective way to present Bakke's case is to tell the court about him and make them look at him and look him in the eye. And make the court know that this wasn't some faceless, nameless issue, some philosophical question. It was a human issue that the court had to deal with, and they had to say to a human being, to say to a person, a citizen, either, "You're going to be judged by the same standard as someone else or you're not going to be judged by the same standard," and will that standard be different according to race. And so his way of focusing the argument on Bakke, um, was the strategy because fundamentally what you had, in a legal sense, was a debate as to whether the rights under the Constitution that we all love and enjoy and cherish are rights that come to us as individuals or are they rights that we get because we're members of particular groups. And the point we were trying to make and I think the point we drove home and the point the court hammered out in those six different opinions is that in America rights belong to individuals, they do not belong to racial groups.