Although the 2003 decision allowed the limited use of race, many states — California, for instance — do not allow admissions officials to consider race in their decisions.
Texas has a unique system. It provides admission for Texas students in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Fisher, of Sugar Land, did not make that cut and was put into a pool of applicants in which race is considered along with other factors, such as community service, leadership qualities, test scores and work experience.
Fisher enrolled at Louisiana State University and is on track to graduate this spring.
Her attorney, Bert Rein, has argued that considering race is not necessary because UT’s race-neutral policy for the top 10 percent already brings in percentages of minority students “far beyond” the numbers at issue in Grutter.
But UT officials do not feel that is enough for a state in which — in the near future — there will be no majority race.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the Texas plan, but a number of high-profile conservative judges from the circuit loudly objected and urged the high court to consider the case.
The case is Fisher v. University of Texas.
In other action, the court ruled 6 to 3 Tuesday that inmates do not have to be read their Miranda rights before they are questioned about crimes unrelated to their incarceration.
The decision came in the case of a Michigan inmate who was in jail on a disorderly conduct conviction. Law enforcement officials took Randall Lee Fields from his cell to a conference room and questioned him for about seven hours on another suspicion: that he had sexually assaulted a minor. He eventually confessed and then tried to keep that statement out of his subsequent trial, saying he had not been read his rights to remain silent or have an attorney present.
He was convicted and sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison.
The court majority said the circumstances of Fields’s questioning on the sexual abuse charges did not amount to the definition of law enforcement “custody” that requires Miranda’s warnings.
“Taking into account all of the circumstances of the questioning — including the undisputed fact that [Fields] was told that he was free to end the questioning and to return to his cell — we hold that [Fields] was not in custody within the meaning of Miranda,” Alito wrote.
“Custody” in the Miranda setting is generally defined as when a reasonable person would think he could not end police questioning and leave. The court in recent years has been limiting the reach of the Miranda rule.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote for Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, said the court’s decision “dishonored” the Fifth Amendment protections that Miranda rules are supposed to protect.
“Today, for people already in prison, the court finds it adequate for the police to say: ‘You are free to terminate this interrogation and return to your cell.’ ” Ginsburg wrote. “Such a statement is no substitute for one ensuring that an individual is aware of his rights.”
The case is
Howes v. Fields