U.S. Supreme Court

Grutter Ruling on Use of Diversity in College Admissions Could Be Overturned, Experts Say


The use of affirmative action in university admissions is in jeopardy because of a cert petition pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Experts say the court is likely to grant cert in the case of Abigail Fisher, the New York Times reports. Fisher, a white student, claims the University of Texas didn’t admit her because of her race. According to the newspaper, a decision in the case “is likely to cut back on if not eliminate the use of race in admissions decisions at public colleges and universities.”

The University of Texas admits any state resident who has graduated in the top 10 percent of his or her class, SCOTUSblog says in its coverage of the case. Fisher didn’t qualify under that program in 2008, which was used to fill 81 percent of the incoming class. Nor did she gain admission to any of the remaining slots under policies that consider academics, personal achievement and race.

The leading precedent is Grutter v. Bollinger, decided on a 5-4 vote in 2003. The majority opinion by now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor found that colleges and universities may use race as a factor in admissions decisions. O’Connor’s replacement, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., has different views and would likely vote to overturn Grutter, according to an ABAJournal.com article by University of California at Irvine law dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Chemerinsky identifies Justice Anthony M. Kennedy as the swing vote. Kennedy has never voted to uphold an affirmative action program, though he isn’t willing to go as far as his conservative colleagues in ending all race-conscious programs, Chemerinsky says.

The case is Fisher v. University of Texas.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “College Affirmative Action Could Be Back Before Supreme Court”

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