U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Texas Case on Use of Race in College Admissions
February 23, 2012 - Posted by Anjali Thakur-Mittal
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the use of race as a factor in determining admissions at public universities.
The case, Fisher v. University of Texas, is the first federal appellate challenge to the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 5-4 ruling that said diversity is a compelling interest for public universities and that race can be used as a factor in admissions.
The Fisher challenge was brought by a White student who claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas (UT) at Austin due to an admissions policy that considers race.
In 2011, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the constitutionality of UT's current admissions policy, saying it was consistent with Grutter. Civil and human rights advocates are looking for the Court to affirm that ruling.
"The benefits of diversity are unquestionable and as the Fifth Circuit recognized, UT Austin's policy falls squarely within the four corners of the Supreme Court's landmark 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger," said John Payton, president and director-counsel of The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "We trust that the Court will reaffirm that the educational benefits of diversity are a compelling interest that colleges and universities can and should pursue for the good of our students, our communities, and our nation."
The Leadership Conference and its coalition partners believe that equal opportunity initiatives such as the one in place at the University of Texas have successfully opened access to opportunities for qualified women and people of color by attempting to level the playing field and encourage diversity in the areas of education, employment, and government contracting.