Supreme Court to Revisit Affirmative Action in Higher Education

The United States Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments in a case involving race-sensitive admissions at the University of Texas.

It has been nine years since the Court’s decisions in the Grutter and Gratz cases regarding affirmative action at the University of Michigan. In Grutter, the Court ruled that a “narrowly tailored” use of race in admissions decisions was acceptable. The Grutter case was decided by a 5-4 vote. But the composition of the Court has changed, most notably the replacement of Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote the majority opinion in Grutter, with Justice Samuel Alito, who is considered more conservative on the issue of affirmative action.

The current case, Fisher v. Texas, is being brought by Abigail Fisher who was rejected for admission at the University of Texas and instead enrolled at Louisiana State University. In Texas, the top 10 percent of every high school graduating class is automatically qualified for admission to state universities. Fisher narrowly missed the cutoff. Additional slots are allocated based on a number of criteria, including race. Fisher claims she was discriminated against in this process because she is white.

Arguments will be held in the Court’s next term, which begins in October 2012 and a decision on the case is not expected until 2013.

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