The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in Fisher v. University of Texas, a racial preferences case. Will the majority rule against factoring race into college admissions?
Texas uses a system called the Ten Percent Plan, a badly disguised racial preferences program (euphemistically known as affirmative action). Students graduating in the top ten percent of their Texas high school class are guaranteed admission to any state school. Two white students denied admission to the University of Texas (UT) claimed the school rejected them based on race. They sued (one dropped the case), and the district court granted summary judgment for UT. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, but the Supreme Court sent it back, ruling that the Fifth Circuit failed to apply a strict scrutiny standard of review.
The Fifth Circuit ultimately upheld racial preferences at Texas colleges.
The high court will decide whether Texas can continue discriminating against individuals based on race. Unfortunately, the court set the precedent. In Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), it held 5-4 that tax-funded schools could consider race as a “plus” factor in deciding who gets in and who doesn’t because of diversity’s purported educational benefits.
This is an unfair racial win-lose game. Diversity’s “benefits” trump equal protection. Sources reported that the court appears divided in Fisher.
From the Wall Street Journal:
A divided Supreme Court Wednesday confronted whether policies at the University of Texas at Austin meet the strict standards it has set out for the use of racial preferences in school admissions.
The court appeared conflicted on the question, with conservatives sharply questioning the school’s use of racial factors to add to its minority student body. Liberal justices, meanwhile, appeared supportive of the flagship university’s practice.
In a sign the court may not produce a definitive ruling on the issue, Justice Anthony Kennedy, likely the deciding vote, expressed frustration the case had arrived at high court a second time without more data on whether the school’s admissions process was working as intended. He suggested the justices might need to send it back to a lower court for additional fact-finding.