The Supreme Court To Hear the High Profile Fisher Case that will Test Affirmative Action in Higher Education

Oct 10, 2012

By Kisha Bird

Today, the Supreme Court is set to hear the high profile Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin  (UT) case that will have major implications not just on racial preferences in admissions to public colleges and universities but also on the legacy of affirmative action. The challenge was brought by a white student, Fisher, who claims she was denied admission to UT due to an admissions policy that considers race.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights notes that this marks the first federal appellate challenge to the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which affirmed the University of Michigan's law school's affirmative action program and held diversity is a compelling interest for public universities and that race can be used as a factor in admissions. In August, more than 50 briefs were filed in support of diversity and the University of Texas at Austin's (UT) admissions policy. This summer, CLASP joined the 2025 Network for Black Men and Boys and other black male achievement initiatives in urging the Supreme Court to uphold the admissions procedures of the University of Texas.  Led by the Kirwan Institute, a national coalition of black male achievement initiatives (BMI) filed an amicus brief advocating that the admissions procedures of the University of Texas at Austin be upheld.  UT's admission procedures allow officials to consider race along with other factors in ensuring the selection of a diverse class. 

In particular, the BMI brief notes that studies of college diversity seldom consider information about race and gender discretely and, therefore, urges the Supreme Court to examine the low numbers of African American males currently enrolled at selective colleges and universities. The BMI coalition argues that black males are "especially vulnerable to exclusion from postsecondary educational opportunities without every available constitutional tool to include them." The coalition states further that only "1.79% of the full-time students enrolled in UT's 2009 fall entering class were black males (129 out of 7,199)."


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