Supremes revisit case: Affirmative Action Supreme Court

Published: December 9, 2015

Supremes revisit case: Affirmative Action Supreme Court, In possibly the most consequential case concerning race the Supreme Court will consider this year, justices will hear oral arguments on Wednesday targeting a program at the University of Texas that takes race into consideration as one factor for admissions.

Supporters of affirmative action in higher education are fearful that the court might issue a broad ruling in the case that will curtail a public university’s ability to consider race in order to produce a more diverse student body.

The case comes at a time when students across the country are showing signs of racial unrest. Protests at the University of Missouri broke out earlier this fall over racial concerns that eventually drew the resignation of the school’s chancellor and university system president. At other universities there have been sit-ins and demonstrations.

Eight states currently have banned the use of race in admissions policy all together according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington.

Abigail Fisher, a white woman from Texas, will make her second trip to the Court on the issue. In 2012, the justices heard arguments and then said nothing for eight months. Ultimately, they issued a narrow opinion sending the case back down to a lower court for another look. The short opinion was indicative that the justices are deeply divided on the issue.

The lower court once again ruled in favor of UT and now eight justices (Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself because she dealt with the case in her previous job as solicitor general) will hear the case one more time and are expected to issue a more substantive opinion.

Many eyes will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote could be crucial. Although in the past he has supported a diverse student population as a goal and given deference to the interest of avoiding racial isolation, he has yet to vote in favor of an affirmative action plan.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been one of the strongest supporters of affirmative action. In 2013, she wrote a highly personal book, “My Beloved World,” that detailed the impact of affirmative action on her life.


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