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Are We There Yet?-Affirmative Action at the Supreme Court

By October 10, 2012Legal
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The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Fisher v. University of Texas, the affirmative action case you have been hearing so much about in the news. Here is a brief summary.

Abigail Fisher, a young, white woman from Texas, applied for admission to the University of Texas in the fall of 2008. At the time, the school had implemented a policy that considered the race of the applicants for the purpose of achieving “racial diversity.” That goal had been held valid by the Supreme Court in a previous case involving the University of Michigan Law School.

What is interesting about this case is that the Texas legislature had passed a law in 1997 that required that students who finish at the top ten percent of their high school class be automatically admitted to the university. That law resulted in filling eighty-five percent of the seats available at the university and had indeed raised the number of minority students admitted. Still, the university felt it should use race when selecting the students for the remaining fifteen percent.

Miss Fisher believes she was adversely affected by that decision and is challenging the policy’s constitutionality.

This is obviously a case that brings a lot emotion, and we must be mindful of our country’s history and ideals when thinking about it. Even if this particular policy is struck down, these cases will continue to come up for the Court’s review until we reach a point in our nation where we can truly move past race. Until then, we will continue to ask, as little children do, “Are we there yet?”

Another interesting point is that Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from this case, leaving open the possibility of a tied verdict. In such an event, the policy would be left in place.