In a move supporters of affirmative action feared, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of Abigail Fisher, a white student who claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas because of her skin color.
In Texas, schools provide admission for those in the top 10 percent of their Texas high schools. Since Abigail didn’t meet that criteria, she was put into a pool of applicants in which race is considered along with other factors like community service, leadership qualities, test scores, and work experience. When she didn’t get in, she claimed her race was the cause and her lawyer, Bert Rein argues that the Texas system goes beyond what the court said was allowed in the 2003 Grutter vs. Bollinger decision because 30 percent of the students brought in under UT’s race-neutral policy for the top 10 percent are already minorities.
Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a non-profit legal defense foundation that has provided legal counsel for Fisher, said Abigail’s case will provide a new look at the old question of the fairness of affirmative action.
“This case presents the court with an opportunity to clarify the boundaries of race preferences in higher education, or even reconsider whether race should be permitted at all under the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”
But that’s exactly what affirmative action supporters don’t want, especially now that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has historically opposed the use of race in education decisions, has replaced Sandra Day O’Connor. If the Grutter decision is reexamined it could likely mean race will no longer be allowed as a consideration in college admissions.
This will definitely be an interesting case to watch.
What’s your stance on affirmative action in college admissions? Is it still needed or should it be done away with?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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