In 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 vote, that “universities could consider an applicant's race alongside a host of other factors to improve diversity.” Yesterday, the Court heard challenges to the administration of affirmative action as applied by the University of Texas.
Abigail Fisher, a white student, sued the University of Texas in 2008. She claimed that, although she had more qualified credentials, she was denied admission in favor of racial minorities. In bringing her lawsuit, she claimed that she was denied equal protection as guaranteed under the United States Constitution. On the other side, the University of Texas is arguing that affirmative action programs in admissions are still required in order to ensure underrepresented minorities are sufficiently represented at their school.
The conservative judges questioned the school’s attorneys regarding the goals of affirmative action, whether a time would come when affirmative action in admissions was no longer necessary and how universities would know when this time had come without court intervention. The more liberal judges seemed to side with the fact that there was no need to overturn their prior rulings on this matter.
It is unsure exactly how the vote will lie; as such, it is unsure how strong a ruling against the use of affirmative action in admissions would be should that be the decision of the majority. The current feeling is that enough judges are disenchanted with the University of Texas’use of affirmative action, but not disenchanted enough with affirmative action as a whole to make sweeping changes outside the University of Texas at the moment.