Justices to hear affirmative action case

Justices to hear affirmative action case
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The Supreme Court will hear a case that could prove to be the biggest challenge to affirmative action policies in more than a decade.

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The case revolves around a white woman, Abigail Fisher, who was denied admissions to the University of Texas. She argues that the school’s race-based admissions process put her at a disadvantage.

"I am very grateful that the Supreme Court will once again hear my case,” Fisher said Monday in a statement. "I hope the justices will rule that [the University of Texas] is not allowed to treat undergraduate applicants differently because of their race or ethnicity."

Fisher, who originally filed the lawsuit in 2008, later attended Louisiana State University, but the merits of her case are still relevant to current and future students.

At issue is whether the University of Texas’s race-based admissions policy is unfair to white students.

The school primarily employs a race-neutral admissions policy that makes room for any Texas high school student who finishes in the top 10 percent of their class. This provides white and minority students with an equal opportunity for admission.

However, the school also considers race as part of a secondary admissions policy that is being challenged.

A conservative-leaning appeals court last July upheld the University of Texas’s affirmative action policy, after the Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.

The Supreme Court last year handed a victory to affirmative action opponents in Michigan. The high court ruled in another case that states should be allowed to ban schools from factoring race into the admissions process.

However, states can still choose to allow these policies, which Fisher is challenging.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called the justices’ decision to rehear the case “baffling,” since the admissions policy at the University of Texas has been upheld many times.

“The University of Texas’s admissions policy is a carefully crafted one that is designed to create the diverse learning environments that are critical to the educational success of all students,” Wade Henderson, the coalition’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “It is in our national interest to expand opportunities for everyone.”

Henderson said he’s confident the court will adhere to its own precedent and reaffirm that it’s constitutional for universities to consider race when making individualized admissions decisions.

— This report was updated at 12:58 p.m.