Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Supreme Court To Address Affirmative Action In College Admissions

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Colleges Value Diversity, but will the Court is an interesting Oct. 6, 2012 article from the New York Times. It previews the Fischer case pending before the Supreme Court. This will be the Court's 4th affirmative action decision in the context of higher education. The plaintiff, a white applicant, claims that race should not have been used as a factor in admissions. As the article states:

To further its aim of having a student body that is “meritorious and diverse in a variety of educationally relevant ways,” the university admits the rest of its students through individual assessments, with race being one in a long list of factors, including grades and activities. Many worry that the court will use this case, Fisher v. University of Texas, to overturn a 2003 decision, Grutter v. Bollinger, which allowed colleges and universities to advance “racial diversity” as a valid goal for their institutions and for society, as long as they did not make race the determining factor in admissions. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in Grutter, “In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.”

In the years since that ruling, there has been widespread, ambitious and valuable experimentation to ensure that all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups have equal access to higher education and that colleges and universities serve broader public goals. Many of these experiments could be threatened by a ruling in Ms. Fisher’s case that prohibited using race in any manner.

This program seems to be designed as suggested by Justice Powell's decision in Bakee which was not supported by a majority of the Court. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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