The case of a Texas college student has made its way to the top of the United States Supreme Court docket. Almost ten years after a decision was made in the Supreme Court regarding race in college admission decisions, Abigail Noel Fisher is making headlines.
In 2008 Fisher was a high school senior. She applied to the University of Texas, and claims that the University of Texas’s affirmative action policy cost her a spot in the incoming freshman class. According to CNN, Supreme Court justices said in 2003 that state universities could “narrowly tailor” their admissions policies to consider an applicant's race. And despite the high court ruling, not allstates have adopted the race-conscious admissions policy since then. California does not allow race considerations in college admissions, and some argue that affirmative action and racial quotas are just further forms of racism. The issue that currently sits on the desk before the justices specifically targets Texas's policies. But, according to the New York Times, supporters of affirmative action are alarmed that the court decided to even hear the case.
“I think it’s ominous,” said Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University. “It threatens to undo several decades of effort within higher education to build a more integrated and just and educationally enriched environment.”
The Obama administration supported Texas when the case was in the lower courts. The administration continues to advocate that colleges and universities, in compliance with the 2003 decision, still make some race-based decisions to "expand campus diversity."
Texas has a unique system, according to the Washington Post. In Texas, students in the top 10 percent of their high school classes are automatically admitted to college. Fisher, of Sugar Land, Texas, did not fit that criteria, and subsequently was put into a very competitive larger pool of applicants where things like race are considered. Other factors that are taken into consideration are community service experience, leadership skills and test scores. And in a statement issued to CNN after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, the University of Texas added, "It is vital for the university to weigh a multitude of factors when making admissions decisions about the balance of students who will make up each entering class."
The court has not mentioned whether or not the standing 2003 decision will affect their ultimate ruling. Legal analysts who spoke with MSNBC say the justices will most likely publicly avoid the politics of this hot issue. Their main focus is the law. However, many still wonder what long-term effect these cases will have on the judiciary's reputation.
The case is Fisher v. University of Texas and will be heard when the court’s new term begins in October.
Photo by cometstarmoon.