The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Wednesday in a case involving a young woman who sued the University of Texas. The woman alleged that she was denied admission to the system’s flagship in 2008 because she is white and the school’s affirmative action policies resulted in the acceptance of African American and Hispanic students with lesser credentials. She was offered admission to a different UT campus with the possibility of transferring later, but she opted to go out of state to attend college.
Abigail Noel Fisher of Sugar Land, Texas, is that student.
The university denied Fisher’s allegations, saying it takes a “holistic” look at candidates and that race and ethnicity are only one of many parts to the decision, as allowed by previous Supreme Court decisions since 1978. The court, in 2003, ruled that schools could use race in admissions decisions to ensure “a critical mass” of minority students. Since then, though, the membership of the court has changed and it is unclear whether the majority opinion will change.
Fisher, from Sugar Land, Texas, enrolled in Louisiana State University and graduated in the spring with a finance degree. She wants the Supreme Court to rule that it was and shall be illegal for the University of Texas-Austin to include race in admissions decisions, a decision that would affect other schools as well.
The university automatically admits the top 10 percent of students from every Texas high school, though she was not in that group in her school. She and her supporters argue that the 10 percent rule assures a diverse group and that race shouldn’t be a consideration for decisions made about students beyond those who automatically are accepted.
A statement she gave to CNN says in part, “I dreamt of going to UT (the University of Texas) ever since the second grade. My dad went there, my sister went there, and tons of friends and family. And it was a tradition I wanted to continue.”
Bill Maher’s HBO show last week was the scene of a debate on affirmative action, which you can watch on the video below. Actress Kerry Washington made obvious but important points about why policies like the University of Texas’ are still vital.