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Supreme Court To Decide Fisher V. UT: Affirmative Action Case This Month

Allison Shelley
The Texas Tribune
Abigail Fisher leaving the Supreme Court building

A federal civil rights lawsuit brought against the University of Texas admissions policy will be resolved by the U.S Supreme Court this month.  And  it could mean whether colleges and universities can use a person’s race as a component of their admissions policy.

The case was first filed in 2008 after Abigail Fisher alleged she was disqualified from admission at UT-Austin because she is white.  As part of the university admission’s policy, race can benefit consideration.

Edward Blum is executive director of the Project on Fair Representation, the non-profit group of attorneys representing Fisher in court.

“Racial classifications and preferences are very effective in boosting minority admissions at certain schools, so yes race-based affirmative action works, the question is, ‘is it necessary, is it fair and are better ways of going about doing this?," Blum questions.

UT officials say the top ten percent rule is the schools primary admissions policy, but in order to achieve a group of students that is reflective to the state’s population, the school uses race as an admissions component.   

Rachel Kleinman, who is a senior attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, says the state’s 'Top 10 percent rule' does produce a diverse picture of students but it doesn’t mean that every eligible student has the same opportunities.

“For numerous reasons there are all sorts of impediments to people of different races being admitted to college and what we’ve discovered is that if you give meaning opportunities to all students through a sort of holistic consideration of all applicants, which can include race, you are able to produce more diverse campuses," Kleinman explains.

If the court decides against the University of Texas, it could abolish affirmative action as part of the entrance criteria for any university in the country.