Supreme Court: In Affirmative Action Arguments, Conservative Bloc Seems United

By Richey, Warren | The Christian Science Monitor, October 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court: In Affirmative Action Arguments, Conservative Bloc Seems United


Richey, Warren, The Christian Science Monitor


The justices of the US Supreme Court split sharply on Wednesday over whether to approve the use of racial preferences for admission to the University of Texas at Austin.

As in prior cases dealing with the divisive issue of race and college admissions, liberal members of the high court defended the Texas affirmative-action plan while conservatives were skeptical and sometimes hostile to it.

After an hour and 20 minutes of oral argument, it was not clear precisely how the justices might resolve the case. But it appeared there were five votes on the conservative side of the court to fashion a majority opinion.

At several points during the argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered the most likely swing vote in the case, expressed concern or otherwise questioned arguments supporting the Texas plan.

When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli insisted that the Texas plan might not necessarily involve a racial preference under the schools holistic selection process, four justices including Justice Kennedy pushed back.

I dont understand this argument, he said. I thought the whole point is that sometimes race has to be a tiebreaker and you are saying that it isnt.

Kennedy added: Well then we should just say you cant use race, dont worry about it.

The case could become a major legal precedent should the justices impose significant new limits on the use of race in college admissions. Such a ruling would force admissions officers and affirmative-action officials across the country to develop race- neutral methods to fill their class rosters.

The last major test of the issue was in 2003 when the court upheld by a 5-to-4 vote the use of race in admissions to the University of Michigan Law School.

Retired Justice Sandra Day OConnor, who provided the crucial fifth vote in that case, attended Wednesdays oral argument, seated with court personnel and lawyers near the front of the courtroom. Meanwhile, on the sidewalk outside the court, scores of demonstrators chanted and cheered in support of affirmative action.

At issue in the case is whether the University of Texas is justified in its use of race as one of many factors in deciding which students to admit to the incoming freshman class.

The school admits 75 percent of its new students under a state law that requires the university to offer places to every student in Texas who graduates in the top 8 to 10 percent of his or her high school class.

Because of segregated housing patterns in the state, the program accounts for a significant level of minority enrollment at the states flagship university. School officials sought to fine-tune the racial makeup of the entering class by using a multifactor admissions process that includes consideration of the candidates race for the remaining 25 percent of entering freshman.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by a white student, Abigail Fisher, who was denied admission.

Ms. Fisher charged that less qualified black and Latino candidates were admitted in violation of her constitutional right to equal treatment.

Lawyers for the university counter that the Texas affirmative- action plan complies with the terms approved in the 2003 Michigan Law School case. In that decision, the Supreme Court approved the limited use of race in affirmative-action programs designed to foster a critical mass of minority enrollment.

Gregory Garre, arguing for the University of Texas, said that while the states top 10 percent admissions program significantly boosted minority enrollment, it could not produce a truly diverse student body.

Taking the top 10 percent of a racially identifiable high school may get you diversity that looks OK on paper, but it doesnt guarantee you diversity that produces educational benefits on campus, he told the justices.

What Texas was seeking, he said, were enough black and Hispanic students to create a welcoming environment among minorities and greater opportunities for cross-racial interactions on campus and in classrooms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Supreme Court: In Affirmative Action Arguments, Conservative Bloc Seems United
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.