Supreme Court Takes Up Affirmative Action Case

Kagan Recuses Herself From Hot-Button Decision

By Reuters

Published October 09, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Marlen Whitley, a corporate lawyer in Houston who is black, says the effects of that decision were plain to see. Whitley was an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the Hopwood ruling. When he then entered the university’s law school, the third-year class, whose members were admitted before the Hopwood decision, included 25 to 30 African Americans, he said. In the class ahead of him, the first to enter after Hopwood, there were four black students, and in Whitley’s class there were eight.

“There were barely enough students of color to fill up one row of one of the lecture halls in the law school,” said Whitley, one of 14 former student body presidents to file a brief for the University of Texas.

In response to the shrinking minority student population, the state legislature enacted its top 10 percent law, which took effect in 1998. Because Texas high schools tend to be each dominated by one racial grouping, depending on their location, the law effectively ensured that top minority students from their schools would gain entrance.

In 2003 the Supreme Court handed down its Michigan decision, which allowed the University of Michigan Law School to continue to consider race as one of many qualities that make an applicant more desirable.

Then, two years later, based on the Supreme Court ruling in the Michigan case, Texas colleges started using race as a factor to admit students who weren’t chosen because they fell in the top 10 percent of their classes. For this group, the university considers race alongside a host of other factors such as extracurricular activities, family background and work experience.

For a graphic showing minority enrollment since 1996 at the University of Texas at Austin, the school at the center of the Fisher case, click http://link.reuters.com/qyv92t

In the current case, Fisher’s claim that the Texas program is unconstitutional rests o n the legal argument that, under the Equal Protection Clause, universities can use race only if there is no other way to improve diversity. Fisher argues that the top 10 percent law is sufficient for boosting racial diversity.

The University of Texas counters that the top 10 percent plan does not bring in enough minority students and that it needs to use race as a factor as it fills the rest of the class. It said the race-based process was responsible for 20 percent of all African American students and 15 percent of all Hispanic students admitted in 2008, the year Fisher was seeking admission.

RACE-NEUTRAL ADMISSIONS

Some opponents of racial preferences argue in a friend-of-the-court brief in the Texas case that the experience of California, where affirmative action is banned, shows that universities can maintain diversity with race-neutral methods.

California voters amended the state’s constitution in 1996 to bar state universities from considering race in admissions. In response, the University of California adopted a program similar to the first prong of the Texas program, offering places to the top 9 percent of graduates from each state high school.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.