Supreme Court hears affirmative action case

The court will decide whether race can be used as a factor in college admissions decisions.

Cody Nelson

 

The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing a case Wednesday that could end or change current affirmative action policy.

In particular, the outcome of Fisher v. University of Texas could affect whether or not race can be used as a factor in admissions decisions at colleges and universities.

In 2008, Abigail Fisher filed suit against the University of Texas for denying her admission. Fisher, a 22-year-old white student, claims that the university violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by considering her race as an admission factor.

The university has a Top Ten Percent plan that admits students of any race graduating from Texas high schools in the top ten percent of their class. Fisher missed that cutoff and was placed into a group of other students whose admission is decided using other factors.

Fisher v. Texas could overturn the 2003 ruling of Grutter v. Bollinger that upheld affirmative action involving the admissions process at the University of Michigan. Beyond higher education, the outcome could have many implications involving current affirmative action policy in the U.S.

As hearings began Monday, many activists rallied outside the Supreme Court for affirmative action.

Debo P. Adegbile, spokesman for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, spoke at the rally.

“As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, we should leave pathways to opportunity visibly open to everyone in our country. Colleges will be less diverse if race can’t be considered on applications,” he said, according to a news release.