Supreme Court to consider case of Affirmative Action in college admissions
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
2/22/2012 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The Supreme Court is set to confront the issue of race in university
admissions. At the heart of the issue is a white student who says she
was denied a spot at the flagship campus of the University of Texas on
account of her race.
The year before Abigail Fisher filed her lawsuit in 2007, African-Americans and Hispanics accounted for more than a quarter of the entering freshman class.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The high court said it will return to the issue of affirmative action in higher education for the first time since its 2003 decision endorsing the use of racial background as a factor in freshmen admissions. A far more conservative court is being asked this time to jettison that ruling and outlaw affirmative action in the university setting.
Vanderbilt University law professor Brian Fitzpatrick says that if the court rules in favor of the student, Abigail Fisher, it could undermine affirmative action programs at many of the nation's public and private universities.
The court has agreed to hear an appeal by Fisher, formerly a high school senior when she first applied -- but was rejected for admission in 2008 to the University of Texas in Austin.
Fisher filed a lawsuit with another woman who was also denied admission, contending the university's race-conscious policy violated their civil and constitutional rights.
The two had since enrolled elsewhere and the other woman has since dropped out of the case. The state says that Fisher is a senior at Louisiana State University whose impending graduation should bring an end to the lawsuit. However, the Supreme Court appeared not to buy that argument this week.
The majority of new freshmen at Texas are admitted because they are among the top 10 percentile in their high school class. The Texas policy applies to the remaining spots and allows for the consideration of race, along with other factors.
Texas had dropped affirmative action policies after a 1996 appeals court ruling. After the high court ruling in 2003, the university resumed considering race starting with its 2005 entering class.
Texas says its updated policy does not use quotas, which the high court has previously rejected. Texas says that it takes a Supreme Court-endorsed holistic approach to enrollment, with an eye toward increasing the diversity of the student body.
According to court papers, before adding race back into the mix, Texas' student body was 21 percent African-American and Hispanic.
The year before Fisher filed her lawsuit in 2007, African-Americans and Hispanics accounted for more than a quarter of the entering freshman class.
Fisher maintains that the university's admissions policies discriminated against her on the basis of race in violation of her constitutional rights and the federal civil rights laws. She says many minority students who were admitted had lower grades and test scores than she did.
Her attorney urged the Supreme Court to reconsider its last ruling on the issue in 2003, when it reaffirmed that a diverse student population can justify use of race as one factor to help minorities gain admission to public universities and colleges.
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