Rejected University of Texas at Austin student, Abigail Fisher, loses her year-long affirmative action case Thursday in a 4-3 majority decision by the Supreme court.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, and Sonia Sotomayor ruled that the university program did not violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws, the Huffington Post reports.
Fisher’s fight against affirmative action v. the University of Texas is heralded as a victory for diversity in higher education.
The Supreme Court’s decision on the affirmative action case will allow the University of Texas to continue using race as a factor in the admissions process.
Justice Kennedy wrote that the victory does not come with an absolute decision for the University of Texas to carry on their affirmative action admissions decisions as they are. Rather, the University must continue debating its admissions policy going forward.
“The Court’s affirmance of the University’s admissions policy today does not necessarily mean the University may rely on that same policy without refinement. It is the University’s ongoing obligation to engage in constant deliberation and continued reflection regarding its admissions policies.”
The Fisher v. University of Texas case was the one of the oldest undecided cases left for deliberation by the court. Legal analysts believe that if the late Justice Antonin Scalia were still alive the outcome of the case would be significantly different.
Other conservative justices sitting on the Fisher’s affirmative action case v. The University of Texas were torn on the issue since December.
Controversially, Scalia suggested that affirmative action does more harm than good to many black students whose academic prowess may not be up-to-par at a high-performing school like The University of Texas — a comment on affirmative action which raised many eyebrows towards the late justice.
There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well. As opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school… a slower-track school where they do well.
The Supreme court was only operating with seven justices due to Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself, since she previously defended affirmative action acting as the top appellate lawyer in the Obama administration.
The plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, 24, is a white woman who claims that she was victimized by the affirmative action admissions process for being white.
Last year, Fisher filed suit against the University of Texas with the help of her prominent conservative activist lawyer, Edward Blum.
Blum claims that the University of Texas rejected Fisher under the school’s “Top 10 Percent rule.” The University of Texas describes the system as a “race-neutral” mechanism that automatically grants admission to top-performing high school students across Texas.
Fisher, bearing a 3.5 GPA out of high school, still did not fall into that range, narrowly missing it. Instead, her rejection decision was based on the University of Texas’ “holistic” plan.
Under this arrangement, Fisher was thrown in with the rest of the applicant pool which did not meet the top 10 threshold also. Here, the University of Texas views the entirety of the applicant’s profile — which includes race.
This is the facet where Abigail and Blum claim that the University of Texas had abused the affirmative action clause and violated her constitutional rights by rejecting her — a white woman — in favor of a student of color.
Statistically, white women benefit from affirmative action more than any other group. According to Time,six million white women had jobs they wouldn’t have had if not for affirmative action in 1995.
Do you think that Abigail Fisher has a legitimate claim on being at a disadvantage for being white due to affirmative action?
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]