In a Monday press release ACE, the American Council on Education, stated that it was filing an amicus brief to support the University of Texas’ affirmative action admission standards in the case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Abilgail Fisher filed the suit after having been turned down for admission in 2008 what she believed was a decision based on her race – firmly in violation of the equal protections clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ACE said that it was filing the brief, ” urging the court to reaffirm the constitutionality of the university’s use of race and ethnicity in its admissions process.” (emphasis added)
While most Americans already knew that affirmative action was race/ethnicity-based, the fact ACE is filing a brief that flat out says it is astounding. How does changing the tone from “separate but equal” to “together and unequal” remove racial division? Why isn’t it simply… equality of opportunity?
ACE goes on to trip all over themselves by describing the pluses of the UT admissions policy:
The ACE brief argues that a core holding in Grutter remains valid: Universities can consider race or ethnicity as a “plus” factor in the context of individualized consideration of each and every applicant.
The problem here is that if race is a “plus” factor for one group, does that not make it a “minus” factor for anyone not included in the “plus” groups?
Shouldn’t the focus be on achievement? If a middle-class hispanic student and a middle-class white student both score 1160’s on the SAT and have 3.4 GPAs, why should either one’s race come into the picture at all? According to ACE, it’s about diversity:
“Courts have long recognized that diversity is a compelling interest in higher education and that individual institutions are in the best position to determine how to pursue that interest in service to their own educational objectives.”
If a school wants to have a more diverse population, it should attract top performing members of ethnic groups, not knee-cap one group because there aren’t enough applicants from another.
One Supreme Court Justice won’t be deciding the case as Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself, likely due to her involvement with the case during her tenure as the Solicitor General. That leaves a right-leaning court that may seek to apply the 14th as it was intended, not as it has been abused.
The fourteenth amendment is precisely the amendment that was cited in Brown v. Board of Education that led to the de-segregation of schools. Can the supreme court possibly argue that the Constitution should protect one group more so than another?
If the court finds for Fisher, it will overturn Grutter v. Bollinger which affirmed the use of race and ethnicity in admissions. A win for the plaintiff will likely result in the end of affirmative action in schools across the nation.