Supreme Court Takes Case That May Eradicate Affirmative Action
Abigail Fisher’s grievance with University of Texas’ affirmative action policy has been circulating the courts since 2008. The Supreme Court has agreed to review case once again — this time, according to Business Insider, it could be the death of affirmative action.
During the first review of the case in 2013, Supreme Court justices decided to keep affirmative action programs in tact, but subjected the policies to “strict scrutiny.”
“Strict scrutiny does not permit a court to accept a school’s assertion that its admissions process uses race in a permissible way without closely examining how the process works in practice…” The New York Times said, quoting Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
The Supreme Court, according to Slate, kicked the case back to an appeals court, which — in the end — concluded that the University of Texas did “satisfy strict scrutiny.”
“We are persuaded that to deny U.T. Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience,” Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham said, according to The New York Times.
But it isn’t over yet.
The Supreme Court is taking a second look at higher education institutions using race as an admission decision. First, it’s important to understand how the University of Texas, located in Austin, vets its prospective students. According to the New York Times, the university employs a practice known as the Top 10 Program — admission is guaranteed for the highest scholarly achievers in every high school in Texas.
“The Top 10 program has produced significant racial and ethnic diversity. In recent years, abut 25 percent of freshmen who enrolled under the program were Hispanic and six percent were Black. The remaining Texas students and those from elsewhere are considered under standards that take account of academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity,” the NYTimes said.
According to Judge Higginbotham, the University of Texas’ Top 10 Program is inadequate for student admissions because many Texas schools are segregated.
“While the Top 10 percent plan boosts minority enrollment by skimming from the tops of Texas high schools, it does so against this backdrop of increasing resegregation in Texas public schools, where over half of Hispanic students and 40 percent of black students attend a school with 90 percent-100 percent minority enrollment,” he said.
Fisher did not graduate at the top 10 percent of her class, which is why she was overlooked for admission. Still, she appealed to the Supreme Court once again — and Slate said she might have a chance.
“Without its usual four-member liberal bloc, the court seems unlikely to uphold the program.” it said.