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Affirmative Action Challenged In University of Texas Case

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment
— Photo Courtesy of dividedstates.com —

Affirmative action came under attack at the U.S. Supreme Court as Chief Justice John Roberts took the lead in questioning whether universities should continue to give special preference to racial minorities.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on University of Texas’s admissions program which uses race as an admissions consideration for as much as one quarter of each class which calls to  question affirmative action.

“What you’re saying is that what counts is race above all,” Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote, told the lawyer defending the plan. “You want underprivileged of a certain race and privileged of a certain race.”

During arguments today in Washington, the court’s Republican-appointed majority scrutinized the University of Texas’s admissions program, which uses race as a consideration in admitting as much as one quarter of each class.

The case was filed  by Bert Rein, the lawyer challenging the Texas program on behalf of student Abigail Noel Fisher,  who applied unsuccessfully to Texas in 2008 and later enrolled at Louisiana State University who said that she was passed over by UT in favor of minoarity students with lower grades and few extracurricular activities.

Texas has support in the case from some of the nation’s most powerful institutions who want a racailly diverse workforced and rely heavily on Universities.  Fifty-nine companies filed a brief be half of Texas iincluding Microsoft Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc.,Gap Inc., General Electric Co., Pfizer Inc., Shell Oil Co. and Viacom Inc.

“The core of our interest is in ensuring that the nation’s universities produce graduates who are going to be effective citizens and effective leaders in an increasingly diverse society, and effective competitors in diverse global markets,” said U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer.

Although Kennedy directed the bulk of his questions at the lawyers defending affirmative action, he also balked at Rein’s contention that Texas’s policy is unconstitutional because it adds only a handful of minority students to the school.

“If it’s so few, then what’s the problem?” Kennedy asked,

“I thought the whole point was that sometimes race has to be a tiebreaker,”  he said as the potential swing vote on the court.

References:

Bloomberg.com
USATOday.com
Businessweek.com