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Supreme Court To Make Major Affirmative Action Decision Next Term

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In yet another closely watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an objection to the use of race in college admissions by the University of Texas at Austin for a second time.

Abigail Fisher brought the case to the court in 2012, following her graduation from a college in another state. Originally, Fisher, a white applicant, was denied acceptance by the university.

The Supreme Court sent the case to an appeals court in Texas in 2013, with rules stipulating that the smaller court must scrutinize the admissions practices at the university more efficiently and effectively. After consideration, the appeals court sided with the university, causing Fisher’s legal counsel to try again with the Supreme Court, USA Today reported.

The university’s policy is somewhat complicated: The top students from almost every high school in the state will make up the first 75 percent of students selected to attend the university, meaning students essentially had to be in the top 7 to 8 percent of their class to be selected. Due to housing segregation, some believe the system was skewed to benefit minorities.

The school then looks at other factors to determine their incoming freshman class — one factor being race.

In 2013, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The Court of Appeals must assess whether the university has offered sufficient evidence that would prove that its admissions program is narrowly tailored to obtain the educational benefits of diversity.”

Because of her previous work on the case as U.S. solicitor general, Justice Elena Kagan has already recused herself from any decision-making, The New York Times reported.

Like those of same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act from this session, the upcoming affirmative action case will be closely watched.

In the past, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of those who have disapproved of the affirmative action practices being applied to college admissions. In 2014, the court ruled in favor of the state of Michigan, where an affirmative action ban approved by state residents was in question.

Sources: The New York Times, USA Today

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


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