Editorial Staff

Will This Spell the End of Affirmative Action for Good? Supreme Court Set to Hear Challenge to AA

The US Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to Affirmative Action in college admissions this coming fall. This will be the first time the court has heard a case challenging the usage of race as criteria for college admission since 2003. Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas flagship campus, and so she, along with another person who was also denied admission to the university, decided to sue the university. The other complainant dropped out before the Supreme Court decided to hear the case.

Ms. Fisher that she would have been accepted to the University of Texas if she weren’t white. Fisher felt this way despite the fact that her grades did not put her in the top 10 percent of students in her class–the primary criteria that the University of Texas uses to determine who gets accepted. The so-called “Top Ten Law” was instituted by the University of Texas after a previous court decision barred the use of race as a factor in admissions. Starting in 2005–two years after the previous decision banned the use of race as a criteria for admission–the university again began to use race as a factor in determining who to accept for the remaining spots in the admissions class, after all of the first slots had been filled by the 10 percent.

Things have changed since the 2003 case was heard by the court. From NJ.com/Associated Press:

This time around, a more conservative court could jettison that earlier ruling or at least limit when colleges may take account of race in admissions.

In a term already filled with health care, immigration and political redistricting, the justices won’t hear the affirmative action case until the fall.

But the political calendar will still add drama. Arguments probably will take place in the final days of the presidential election campaign.

A broad ruling in favor of the student, Abigail Fisher, could threaten affirmative action programs at many of the nation’s public and private universities, said Vanderbilt University law professor Brian Fitzpatrick.

The bottom line is this: Every 5 years or so a white person is going to issue a challenge to Affirmative Action, and eventually race will be illegal to use as a criteria in college admissions. This scenario may not come to pass in this particular case, but I’m feeling fairly certain that the scenario will come to pass in my lifetime.

Alternatives to using race to increase diversity on college campuses could include using financial status (poor kids get a leg up), first-generation college student status, and living in an underrepresented district–all could possibly be used as a criteria to boost ethnic diversity.

As this country becomes more and more diverse, I expect fewer and fewer colleges/universities/businesses to be sympathetic to the idea of attempting to mitigate the legacy of discrimination that African-Americans have endured in this country. Black people better read the writing on the wall: Affirmative Action is on the way out.

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