SCOTUS and Affirmative Action in Higher Education




Is affirmative action in the determination of higher education admission ending? In 2003, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) upheld the race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Michigan’s law school. In making its 5-4 decision, SCOTUS reasoned that a diverse student body prepares students for their professional careers, as “the skills needed in today’s increasingly global marketplace can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas, and viewpoints.” But on Tuesday, February 21, 2012, SCOTUS agreed to revisit the concept, to hear a case that could end race-based affirmative action as we know it. SCOTUS agree to hear the case, but arguments aren’t expected until the court’s 2012-13 term, beginning in October, 2012.

Justice Samuel Alito, who replaced retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who cast the deciding vote for affirmative action in 2003, is more realistic about affirmative action. In 2007, Alito and four other Justices issued a ruling that barred public-school districts from promoting diversity through race-conscious pupil-assignment plans. Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from the current case because she worked on the 2003 decision.

This case centers on the University of Texas’ (UT) undergraduate admission policy. UT said in a statement that it is “firmly committed to a holistic admissions policy that is narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefits of a diverse student body.” But the UT statement did not bother to explain what the ultimate goal of its admissions policy is, to specifically explain “holistic admissions policy” or “educational benefits of a diverse student body.”

Dr. Adam Winkler, a constitutional-law professor at UCLA, wrote, “Any decision will apply nationwide, meaning that racial minorities will find it more difficult to gain entrance to all public universities.” He continued, “And white students, who will gain more slots, will also lose by having fewer diverse students to learn from once admitted.” Thomas Lifson, lead editor at American Thinker, adds, “This is stunningly disingenuous coming from a professor [Winkler] at a campus where affirmative action has been abolished (by an initiative vote of Californians), revealing that the principal victims of affirmative action in California were minorities themselves: Asian-heritage students.

But that’s just my opinion.

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