November 28, 2020

University of Texas affirmative action case could affect college admissions

Abigail Fisher was denied admission into the University of Texas in 2008 because of what she is claiming to be racial discrimination. Fisher is Caucasian.

Fisher said the university’s use of race in considering potential students is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court votes in favor of Fisher, any use of race in admissions would be made illegal.

The Journal contacted Anne Edmunds, vice president of enrollment management at Webster University, to confirm if Webster University has an affirmative action policy when it admits students. Edmunds would not comment without consent from media relations.

The Journal contacted media relations and was told by the office it would release an individual for an interview or make a statement on behalf of the university by Tuesday, Dec. 4. The Journal had not yet received correspondence from media relations on this issue after press time, and multiple phone calls to the media relations’ office seeking comment were not returned.

According to Webster University’s affirmative action policy in the student handbook, “The University is committed to do more than ensure employment neutrality; it is committed to make additional efforts to recruit, employ, and promote minorities and women.”

The University of Texas does not follow a quota system, which allots a certain percentage of spots for ethnic students. The system was made illegal in the 1978 Supreme Court case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action in admitting students in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger in a 5-4 verdict. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor vocally led the side of affirmative action. She wrote in the majority’s ruling, “(The U.S. Constitution) does not prohibit the law school’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

O’Connor hoped within time these admissions processes would no longer be necessary.

“We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today,” O’Connor wrote.

Nine years later, Fisher has made an effort to push the process along. But this time the court may be leaning in favor of abolishing affirmative action in admissions. Justice Samuel Alito, who replaced O’Connor, has voted against racial preference in the past.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who voted in favor of affirmative action in 2003, saw little difference between this case and the one in 2003.

“It seems to me that this program is certainly no more aggressive than the one in Grutter. It’s more, in fact, more modest,” Ginsburg said.

Opponents of the previous ruling, like Justice Anthony Kennedy, see the case as an opportunity to overturn what they view as an unjust practice.

“What you’re saying is what counts is race above all,” Kennedy said to University of Texas’ lawyers, according to a CNN article.

A ruling in favor of Fisher could ban the use of race as a factor in college admissions.

The University of Texas claimed Fisher had no right to bring this issue to court as nothing can be done for her. The university said her issue was invalid because Fisher has already graduated from Louisiana State University, and the only money in question is her application fee, which amounts to $100. The university also stated it is a non-issue eligible for court because even without racial preference, Fisher would not have been admitted.

Justice Elena Kagan has disqualified herself from the hearing due to previous work on the case before being appointed to the Supreme Court. This gives the possibility of a 4-4 tie. The case would then uphold a lower court’s ruling, which was in favor of the University of Texas.

A ruling is expected by late June 2013.

 

Other Sources: Huffington Post, The Chronicle at Duke University

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