Affirmative Action Case Headed to Supreme Court

     (CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a long-running case that could clarify how and when universities can consider race when admitting students.
     This will be the second time the high court considers the issue of affirmative action in Texas public universities.
     After the justices vacated the dismissal of an earlier case, 7-2, in 2013, the Fifth Circuit ruled on remand last year that the University of Texas at Austin can consider race in admitting students.
     That decision led Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit legal advocacy group, to file complaints against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, arguing those universities’ race-based affirmative action policies limit admissions of qualified white and Asian-American students and should be banned.
     The plaintiffs in the case now headed to the Supreme Court, Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michaelewicz, sued the University of Texas after they were denied admission in 2008, claiming the consideration of race violated their 14th Amendment rights.
     Neither student was admitted under Texas Top 10 Percent Law, a statute that promotes minority enrollment by having state universities automatically admit the top 10 percent of a high school’s senior class.
     Over 81 percent of student at UT, those who are not subjected t a “holistic review program” that considered “special circumstances” including race and socioeconomic status, are admitted under the law.
     In sending the case back to the Fifth Circuit in 2013, the majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said the appellate court failed to apply the correct standard of strict scrutiny in determining whether the school used any available race-neutral alternatives.
     As is their custom, the justices gave no reason for their decision to grant certiorari in this case. As in the earlier appeal, Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because she worked on it as U.S. solicitor general.
     “I am very grateful that the Supreme Court will once again hear my case,” Fisher said in a statement distributed by the Project on Fair Representation. “I hope the justices will rule that UT is not allowed to treat undergraduate applicants differently because of their race or ethnicity.”

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