Supreme Court to Reconsider Affirmative Action

February 21, 2012
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An upcoming Supreme Court case could affect university admission policies.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could dramatically affect university admissions.  Abigail Fisher filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas after she was denied admission to the school.  Ms. Fisher, who is white, claims that the university’s race-conscious admission policy violated her civil and constitutional rights.  Since filing her case, Ms. Fisher has attended Louisiana State University.  The University of Texas admits all high school seniors within the state who graduate within the top 10% of their class.  If an applicant is not within the top 10% of their high school class, race is one factor that the university considers in the admission process.  A federal appeals court has upheld the University of Texas concluding that it was not in conflict with the most recent Supreme Court ruling in this matter, Grutter v. Bollinger.  In this latter case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in 2003 that the University of Michigan Law School could not use a point system to increase minority admissions, but could use more vague measures.  Since then, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who voted in the case with the four more liberal justices, has resigned from the Court, replaced by Justice Samuel Alito who often votes with the conservatives.  In addition, Justice Elena Kagan has disqualified herself from the case since she participated in it while she was Solicitor General.  Oral arguments are expected to be heard in the fall.

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