Abigail Fisher says she was denied acceptance to the University of Texas because she is white, a decision she says violates her Constitutional rights. University officials maintain that race was just one of many criteria used — in a manner consistent with the Constitution and court precedent — to ensure that UT’s freshman class would be the best it could be.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a critical case not just for colleges and universities, but also for school districts seeking diverse student participation in school assignments and programs.
NSBA, the College Board, and 11 other national education groups have filed an amicus brief strongly supporting the university’s use of race as one of multiple factors in admissions decisions.
The standard the University of Texas and school districts have used was established in 2003, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Grutter v. Bollinger that the University of Michigan’s use of race in admissions was constitutional as long as it was part of a “holistic” assessment of candidates that included other factors. It was that decision that has guided the University of Texas and many other educational institutions as they try to diversity their academic programs and prepare a workforce for the 21st century.
Since that ruling, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who provided a key “swing” vote for the majority, has retired and been replaced Samuel A. Alito Jr.