Supreme Court Rejects Fisher, Upholds Use of Race in College Admissions - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Supreme Court Rejects Fisher, Upholds Use of Race in College Admissions

by Diverse Staff

(This developing story will be updated.)

WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Supreme Court handed the University of Texas at Austin a major victory Thursday in support of its right to consider race and ethnicity as a component of its admissions policy.

In a 4-3 ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court rejected the challenge of a White woman, Abigail Fisher, who was denied admission to the university in 2008. Fisher maintained that the university turned her away in favor of lesser-qualified Black and Hispanic applicants, violating her Constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The university, which guarantees freshman admission to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their Texas high school, said Fisher did not graduate in the top 10 percent of her high school class and would not have been admitted with or without race as a factor. But officials did conditionally offer to allow her to transfer in as a sophomore if she maintained a 3.2 grade point average at another public college in Texas.

Instead, Fisher went to Louisiana State University, from which she graduated in 2012, and pursued her lawsuit. Fisher, now 26, had been recruited for the suit by Edward Blum, an opponent of racial preferences who has been successful in persuading the Supreme Court to hear cases challenging the use of race in education and politics. Blum was behind a major challenge to the landmark Voting Rights Act that resulted in the court eviscerating a key provision of the law and he also led an unsuccessful challenge to states’ widespread practice of counting all their residents, not just those eligible to vote, in drawing legislative districts.

The case became the battle ground for advocates of affirmative action and their opponents.

Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the Texas plan complied with earlier court rulings allowing colleges to take account of race in pursuit of diversity on campus. “The university has thus met its burden of showing that the admissions policy it used … was narrowly tailored,” Kennedy wrote.

The court’s three more conservative justices dissented, and Justice Samuel Alito read portions of his dissent from the bench. In a separate dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas repeated his view that the Constitution outlaws any use of race in higher education admissions.

The court had agreed to hear this case before conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died Feb. 13. Scalia had said at oral arguments that minority students with inferior academic credentials may be better off at “a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case because she worked on it while serving in the Justice Department.

Justices heard Fisher’s case once before, and issued an inconclusive ruling in 2013 that sent her case back to a lower court and set the stage for Thursday’s decision.

Contibuting: Associated Press

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Being a Good Ally Much has been said, as must be said, about the African-American graduate student at Yale University who was reported by a White peer to the campus police for napping in a common room. I can identify. In stating my sympathy as an Asian American, howev...
Running for Maryland Governor, Ben Jealous Puts Focus on Education Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous on the stump. BALTIMORE — On a recent Saturday, Benjamin Todd Jealous was up early, getting ready for a full day of campaign stops. The former president of the National Association for the Advancement ...
The Case for Diversity I'm a privileged, old White guy who won the ovary lottery. Consequently, I was able to grow up in the right ZIP code and take advantage of the opportunities afforded to me by sheer dumb luck. As a result, I wound up being an academic surgeon and w...
OSU Names Scholar Moore Vice Provost for Diversity, Inclusion The Ohio State University has named Dr. James L. Moore III, a prominent researcher and scholar, as its next vice provost for diversity and inclusion. Moore – the Education and Human Ecology’s Distinguished Professor of Urban Education and executiv...
Semantic Tags: