Supreme Court to tackle affirmative action (again)
( Thomas Dowling, USA Today, October 9, 2015)
Monday marked the start of the Supreme Court’s new term, and with it came a docket loaded with controversial, high-profile legal challenges — some of which affect you more directly than others.
Perhaps the one that will have greatest impact: Fisher v University of Texas. This is the second round for the case — now scheduled to go before the high court on Dec. 9 — which looks at the use of race in admissions decisions by the University of Texas at Austin.
The justices ruled 7-1 in 2013 that the state’s flagship university must show that taking race into consideration is both essential and narrowly applied, according to USA TODAY. Since then, a federal appeals court upheld the practice for a second time.
In Fisher Amicus Brief, Harvard Defends Affirmative Action
(DAPHNE C. THOMPSON, The Harvard Crimson, November 4, 2015)
Harvard filed an amicus curiae brief in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court affirmative action case Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin on Tuesday, putting forth an impassioned defense of race-based affirmative action.
In the 27-page brief, Harvard urged the Court to continue permitting the consideration of race as a factor in college admissions processes, arguing that a diverse student body is “a compelling interest that justifies race-conscious admissions in higher education.” Alternative, rigidly race-neutral policies, Harvard argued, would diminish the “excellence of the education Harvard offers.”
Op-Ed A conservative quandary in affirmative action case Fisher vs. Texas
(Eric J. Segall, The Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2015)
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will once again consider affirmative action. The question in Fisher vs. Texas is whether the University of Texas may lawfully take into account the race of its applicants alongside other non-academic criteria. Many amicus briefs have been filed in the case by conservative groups siding with the plaintiff and asking the court to end any and all use of race in university admissions across the country. But if the court takes conservative jurisprudence seriously, then Texas, not the plaintiff, should rightly prevail.
Abigail Fisher, a white woman, alleges that she was illegally denied admission by the University of Texas on account of her race. She argues that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits the university from looking at the race of its applicants in any manner, even if the goal is diversity rather than segregation, and even if race plays only a small role in the decision.
There is general agreement among judges and academics that the government may not discriminate against traditionally disadvantaged groups such as racial minorities without the strongest of justifications. There is real debate, however, over whether the government may consider race when trying to remedy our long and sordid history of discrimination or when trying to achieve more diversity.
Conservative justices have consistently argued that the Equal Protection Clause requires all governmental decisions to be made on a “color blind” basis, and that the way to stop racial discrimination is, in Chief Justice John Roberts' words, to “stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Liberal justices have generally disagreed because, as Justice John Paul Stevens put it, there is a significant difference between a “welcome mat” for minorities and a “no trespassing sign.”
An impasse on affirmative action?
(Irin Carmon, MSNBC, December 9, 2015)
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has had a long time to consider the case of Abigail Fisher, the white woman who claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas because of her race, despite the fact that a lower court found she wouldn’t have been admitted regardless of her race. This is the second time her case has come to the court, and it has been seven years in the making.
But in oral argument in the case Wednesday, the tiebreaker justice seemed indecisive, implying that he didn’t have enough information yet about whether the University of Texas had done everything it could do ensure its admissions plan is constitutional.
“We’re just arguing the same case,” he said. “It’s as if nothing had happened.”
Justice Kennedy suggested that “additional fact-finding” by a lower court might help. That could mean yet another trip back to the Supreme Court for him to agonize again over whether the University Texas has complied with the constitution in its consideration of race.
WASHINGTON -- African-American leaders in Congress sharply condemned Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Thursday for his remarks questioning the intelligence level of black students.
"His suggestion that African Americans would fare better at schools that are 'less advanced' or on a 'slow-track' reminds me of the kind of prejudice that led to separate and unequal school systems -- a policy the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional decades ago," civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said in a statement.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) argued that Scalia's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court should be in jeopardy.