Dear Commons Community,
If you are not familiar with this case, USA Today has a cover story of Fisher v. the University of Texas that will be heard by the United States Supreme Court starting tomorrow. It is likely that the decision of the Court will minimally change how affirmative action in student admissions is implemented throughout higher education.
The central argument centers on Abigail Fisher, who contends that her application for admission to the University of Texas-Austin in 2008 was rejected because of her skin color: white. In its deliberations, the Court will surely revisit its Sweatt v. Painter decision of 1950 that centered on Herman Sweatt who
“.. had sued the university and its president, Theophilus Painter, for denying him admission to the University of Texas Law School in 1946 because, as Painter pointed out at the time, “of the fact that he is a negro.” The Court’s decision ordered the University of Texas to admit Sweatt and set precedents for a number of discrimination cases including Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
The Fisher case will be seen at a different time and by justices who lean to the right. As USA Today describes it:
“The court has taken a turn to the right since its last ruling upholding affirmative action in 2003. Five justices are on record opposing the practice. That could mean defeat for the university — and, possibly, a sweeping declaration that racial preferences are unconstitutional, not only at public universities but also at private schools such as Harvard and Yale because they receive federal funds.”
In sum, this is an important decision that can have huge ramifications not just for higher education but for affirmative action programs in general.