Top Court Challenges Affirmative Action Program

Supremes Seem Skeptical About College Preferences

By Reuters

Published October 10, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday vigorously challenged a University of Texas admissions program that favors some African-American and Hispanic applicants in a case that could determine how universities use affirmative action at campuses nationwide.

The legal battle is the most closely watched case of the court’s current term, striking at the heart of two defining American characteristics - race and opportunity. The country’s racial makeup has also changed significantly over time, with racial and ethnic minorities making up more than half of the children born in the United States for the first time this year, according to government data.

The University of Texas and its supporters contend that universities must have the flexibility to consider race to ensure diversity. Opponents say it is time to eliminate racial preferences, which they say are unconstitutional.

In Wednesday’s arguments, members of the court’s conservative wing pressed a lawyer for the university on the goals of affirmative action and whether universities would ever be able to stop using race in their admissions decisions.

Some of the liberal justices suggested the court should not overturn its prior rulings.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor summed up the central issue facing the court: “When do we stop deferring to the university’s judgment that (considering) race is still necessary?” she asked. “That’s the bottom line of this case.”

The case involves Abigail Fisher, a white student who was denied admission by the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Fisher sued the same year, claiming that racial minorities with worse credentials were accepted ahead of her. She argued that the school’s use of race in admissions violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. The university countered that it needed the flexibility to consider race as one of many factors to build a “critical mass” of underrepresented minorities.

‘WHERE IS THE END POINT?’

Chief Justice John Roberts pressed university lawyer Gregory Garre on how judges would know when UT had achieved its desired level of diversity: “When will I know that you’ve reached a critical mass?”


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!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • 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.