UT’s Affirmative Action at High Court Next Week
Admission policies at the University of Texas at Austin are about to come under the microscope of the U.S. Supreme Court. The case could bring several decades of affirmative action to an abrupt end.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Abigail Fisher. She applied to UT’s Austin campus in 2008, got turned down, and sued, claiming that the university’s admission policies discriminated against her as a white applicant.
UT follows admissions guidelines established by the Supreme Court in 2003. These rules allow colleges to consider race among their admissions criteria, as long as they don’t set specific racial quotas.
If Fisher wins the case, these rules may be struck down, says Tejinder Singh, a lawyer who helps write the court-watching SCOTUSblog and frequently works on Supreme Court cases.
“What court watchers are looking for when we look at this case is basically we’re looking to see how the University of Texas loses,” Singh said. “Most of us believe that the university is going to lose this case. What we don’t know is whether it will lose big, so that affirmative action will be over, or whether it will lose small.”
Most of the UT freshman class each year consists of students who graduated near the top of their high school classes. Those students get automatic admission to UT, and the policy has helped bring more Latino and African American students.
This case affects the rest of the incoming freshmen, the 25 percent who are picked for a variety of other factors, like high test scores, athletic ability, unique interests, or race. If the university loses its case, it could no longer consider race at all when making those decisions.
The court will hear arguments Oct. 10.