fisher-v-university-of-texas

This morning, the Supreme Court punted on Fisher v. University of Texas. In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg defended affirmative action as more than just achieving diversity in a student body, but attending to the “lingering effects of ‘an overtly discriminatory past.’” Colorlines’ infographic does a good job of illustrating those lingering effects.

SCOTUSblog explains that the decision means “affirmative action survives at least in theory (which would gain the support of Justices Breyer and Sotomayor), but will be far more difficult to implement in practice (which would gain the support of the Court’s more conservative Justices).”

Fisher said in news reports that she hoped for the day universities selected students “solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it.” But Fisher failed to graduate in the top 10 percent of her class, meaning she had to compete for the limited number of spaces up for grabs.

She and other applicants who did not make the cut were evaluated based on two scores. One allotted points for grades and test scores. The other, called a personal achievement index, awarded points for two required essays, leadership, activities, service and “special circumstances.” Those included socioeconomic status of the student or the student’s school, coming from a home with a single parent or one where English wasn’t spoken. And race.

Those two scores, combined, determine admission.

Even among those students, Fisher did not particularly stand out. Court records show her grade point average (3.59) and SAT scores (1180 out of 1600) were good but not great for the highly selective flagship university. The school’s rejection rate that year for the remaining 841 openings was higher than the turn-down rate for students trying to get into Harvard.

As a result, university officials claim in court filings that even if Fisher received points for her race and every other personal achievement factor, the letter she received in the mail still would have said no.

It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

US top court to revisit affirmative action case

Washington (AFP) - =The US Supreme Court said Monday it will revisit the thorny issue of affirmative action, pointing to a major decision in the coming year on race as a factor in university admissions. For the second time in three years, the nation’s highest court will examine the case of Abigail Fisher, who alleges she was turned down for a place at the University of Texas because she is white. It heard her case in October 2012, but issued no decision after eight months of deliberations, opting instead to toss the matter back to the federal Court of Appeals in Texas. http://dlvr.it/BMjxts

on affirmative action and merit

I’ve posted before about the fact that white women are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action. I’ve been following the Tumblr-fied reaction to this disgustingly milquetoast NYTimes piece profiling Abigail Fisher, a young white woman who was rejected from the University of Texas’s flagship campus in Austin and who is now the lead plantiff in Fisher v. University of Texas. Fisher, who wasn’t academically talented enough to be admitted through UT’s program for top Texan high school students, feels that her race was a disadvantage in the much smaller “holistic” admissions pool.

The case was argued before the Supreme Court this morning. It sounded like Chief Justice John Roberts felt that it wasn’t enough to give states the go-ahead to resegregate the nation’s K-12 schools; now he’s coming for colleges, too. 

I’m a white woman, and I’m going on the record again: this case (like challenges to affirmative action generally are) is racist bullshit. 

For a long time, I attributed this attitude mostly to white men, but Fisher proves, of course, that white women aren’t immune to it: Many white people believe that not being specifically advantaged is the same as being disadvantaged

That is also racist bullshit.

For all of our talk about hard work and self-reliance, white people seem deeply angry at the idea of having to actually deploy those tools in their own lives. We still believe that 90% of success should entail showing up. (I guess that means that the other 10% is “being white.”) 

One of the things white people still refuse to acknowledge is that being white, for many centuries, came with your standard patriarchal dividend. If that’s your baseline- that you used to get some kind of preference and now you don’t- then attention fellow white people: I’m conceding. Your life has gotten harder in the past 50 years, because now, instead of just showing up, you actually have to have skills and qualifications. An 1160 on the SAT and some time on the soccer field is no longer enough to get into one of the best colleges in the country. Having an uncle on the squad is no longer enough to get a job in the fire department. Being a dude doesn’t get you into medical school anymore. 

This time, you are going to have to win on merit. I feel pretty good about that, actually; I took care of my shit. My ass did better than an 1160, that’s for damn sure. When I lose out- like Fisher, I was rejected from an elite college that my sister attended, where I thought I could succeed, but unlike Fisher, I tilted at that windmill in three admissions cyclesI have a drink, I take a shower. That’s how we play in the NBA. I’m ready; hope the rest of y'all white people are, too.

Partial Protest

The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) sent out an email the other day calling on students to wear all black and be silent throughout the day in response to Fisher v University of Texas, sort of representing a classroom without people of color.  I definitely have some opinions on the case as I wrote about briefly and not particularly eloquently here http://lawlschool-adventures.tumblr.com/post/33367013287/waskommenmag-via-oyez-this-video-explains, but I wasn’t quite certain how I felt about this demonstration.  Namely, whether the aptly named Blackout was the right approach.  I think I was also quite concerned about not participating in class, if I was expected to be silent all day like en route to classes as well, and how many people would be participating in the demonstration, etc.

After much deliberation, this morning I slapped on a black shirt, black pants, black shoes, and a black and white cardigan (it’s cold out) and quickly shot off an e-mail to my Professors telling them I intended on remaining silent today, read: I’m protesting non-disruptively, please don’t call on me.  I sent this though maybe around 15 minutes before my first class of the day.  And I thought hmm, there’s a chance he’ll (meaning the Professor) will get it, but there’s a chance he won’t…what’s the chance of  my being called on today?

One hundred percent.  There was a one hundred percent chance of me being called on.  And I just had this mental moment of…effff.  For a split second I didn’t know what to do.  Do I explain that I’m protesting to the whole class?  Do I try demonstrate that I know something about what we’re talking about?  I didn’t really want to cause a scene so I decided to answer the question.  I then hilariously got called on in that class like two more times - he never calls on you just once.  On the way to my next class, I lamented to some of my girlyfriends who were, as I was I, fairly amused by the situation.  During said next class, I received an email from the first Professor apologizing.  He did not in fact see the email I sent, and said that while I was free to decline to answer and explain why, he understands how bloody awkward I probably would have felt doing so. He also added that he supported the cause and that he valued my contribution, which was nice.

Consciously going without talking is REALLY HARD.  Just feeling like not talking is one thing, but restraining oneself from talking when one has the ability is so difficult.  For example, during that second class, there were times when I was like ‘oh I know the answer to that question,’ but then thought 'wait, don’t raise your hand.’  [I knew that Professor knew and would be chill and not think I just didn’t know or something - she was actually scheduled to give a talk on Fisher v U Texas that I wanted to attend this evening, but I had a Moot Court research meeting.]  Even when the whole class was supposed to be silent listening to the Professor, it felt so hard.  I successfully went without speaking during that second class though.

Third was a little more complicated.  Prof knew and actually worked around me saying things a bit which I thought was quite nice (much smaller class), but there was a point when we divided into groups of three and I just thought, well I can’t just not help the people in my group.  I tried to keep the talking to a minimum, and when I did I think I instinctively spoke softly as if to compensate for speaking at all.  Except in that first class where I had to project for the lecture hall. There are just times where one can’t avoid speaking, I think.  I’m curious as to how many people were participating, or even knew of it outside of BLSA.  I guess I would have a better idea if I had been able to attend that talk tonight.

So I suppose today was a partial protest.  

A judicial retreat from diversity would be deeply symbolic, too. The term — a gauzy, unobjectionable way to talk about the combustible topic of race — has had a remarkable run. If the diversity rationale falls apart in university admissions, it could start to test the societal commitment to it in other arenas, notably private hiring and promotion.
—  On the possible end of affirmative action, in the Supreme Court case Fisher v the University of Texas, in the New York Times.
University of Michigan's Minority Enrollment Plummeted After Banning Affirmative Action

University of Michigan’s Minority Enrollment Dropped After Ending Affirmative Action #supremecourt #SCOTUS

University of Michigan Law Library

The University of Michigan has long held a belief that diversity in the student population is a key component to advanced learning and prides itself on its historical advancesin increasing the number of women and minorities in its student population. History has shown, however, that maintaining diversity can be a challenge, even with the best intentions. In…

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alternet.org
What Abigail Fisher’s Affirmative Action Case Is Really About
Look closely at her academic record and it becomes clear that her race wasn't what kept her out of the University of Texas.

Update, June 29, 2015:The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it would again hear Fisher v. University of Texas, an affirmative action case in which a white woman claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas because of her race. In 2013, the Court ruled narrowly on the case, requiring the federal appeals court that had ruled against the woman, Abigail Fisher, to re-examine her arguments. Last year, the appeals court again decided against Fisher, affirming that race could be one of the factors considered in trying to diversify the student body at the university.

Months ago, Linda Greenhouse, the Supreme Court expert, asked of the Fisher case: “What will the court do? Let the latest Fifth Circuit opinion, with its endorsement of race-conscious admissions, stand unreviewed? Or plunge back into the culture wars with a case that sorely tested collegial relations among the justices two years ago and that promises to be at least as challenging a second time around?”

The court has now chosen its path. It will re-engage.

In 2013, ProPublica published what became one of the most provocative analyses of the Fisher case. It highlighted an overlooked, deeply ironic fact about the case: when one actually looked at Fisher’s arguments, she actually had not been denied admission because of her race, but rather because of her inadequate academic achievements. Read that analysis, originally published March 18, 2013, below.

Original story:

When the NAACP began challenging Jim Crow laws across the South, it knew that, in the battle for public opinion, the particular plaintiffs mattered as much as the facts of the case. The group meticulously selected the people who would elicit both sympathy and outrage, who were pristine in form and character. And they had to be ready to step forward at the exact moment when both public sentiment and the legal system might be swayed.

That’s how Oliver Brown, a hard-working welder and assistant pastor in Topeka, Kan., became the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that would obliterate the separate but equal doctrine. His daughter, whose third-grade innocence posed a searing rebuff to legal segregation, became its face.

Nearly 60 years after that Supreme Court victory, which changed the nation, conservatives freely admit they have stolen that page from the NAACP’s legal playbook as they attempt to roll back many of the civil rights group’s landmark triumphs.

In 23-year-old Abigail Noel Fisher they’ve put forward their version of the perfect plaintiff to challenge the use of race in college admissions decisions.

Publicly, Fisher and her supporters, chief among them the conservative activist who conceived of the case, have worked to make Fisher the symbol of racial victimization in modern America. As their narratives goes, she did everything right. She worked hard, received good grades, and rounded out her high school years with an array of extracurricular activities. But she was cheated, they say, her dream snatched away by a university that closed its doors to her because she had been born the wrong color: White.

The daughter of suburban Sugar Land, Texas, played the cello. Since the second grade, she said, she dreamed of carrying on the family tradition by joining her sister and father among the ranks of University of Texas at Austin alumni.

And the moment for her to lend her name to the lawsuit might never be riper: The Supreme Court has seated its most conservative bench since the 1930s. The Court is expected to issue a decision any week now in what is considered one of the most important civil rights cases in years.

On a YouTube video posted by Edward Blum, a 1973 University of Texas graduate whose nonprofit organization is bankrolling the lawsuit, she is soft-spoken, her strawberry blond hair tucked behind one ear. Not even a swipe of lip gloss adorns her girlish face.

“There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin,” she says. “I was taught from the time I was a little girl that any kind of discrimination was wrong. And for an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me. What kind of example does it set for others?”

It’s a deeply emotional argument delivered by an earnest young woman, one that’s been quoted over and over again.

Except there’s a problem. The claim that race cost Fisher her spot at the University of Texas isn’t really true.

In the hundreds of pages of legal filings, Fisher’s lawyers spend almost no time arguing that Fisher would have gotten into the university but for her race.

If you’re confused, it is no doubt in part because of how Blum, Fisher and others have shaped the dialogue as the case worked its way to the country’s top court.

Journalists and bloggers have written dozens of articles on the case, including profiles of Fisher and Blum. News networks have aired panel after panel about the future of affirmative action. Yet for all the front-page attention, angry debate and exchanges before the justices, some of the more fundamental elements of the case have been little reported.

Race probably had nothing to do with the University of Texas’s decision to deny admission to Abigail Fisher.

In 2008, the year Fisher sent in her application, competition to get into the crown jewel of the Texas university system was stiff. Students entering through the university’s Top 10 program — a mechanism that granted automatic admission to any teen who graduated in the upper 10 percent of his or her high school class — claimed 92 percent of the in-state spots.

Fisher said in news reports that she hoped for the day universities selected students “solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it.” But Fisher failed to graduate in the top 10 percent of her class, meaning she had to compete for the limited number of spaces up for grabs.

She and other applicants who did not make the cut were evaluated based on two scores. One allotted points for grades and test scores. The other, called a personal achievement index, awarded points for two required essays, leadership, activities, service and “special circumstances.” Those included socioeconomic status of the student or the student’s school, coming from a home with a single parent or one where English wasn’t spoken. And race.

Those two scores, combined, determine admission.

Even among those students, Fisher did not particularly stand out. Court records show her grade point average (3.59) and SAT scores (1180 out of 1600) were good but not great for the highly selective flagship university. The school’s rejection rate that year for the remaining 841 openings was higher than the turn-down rate for students trying to get into Harvard.

As a result, university officials claim in court filings that even if Fisher received points for her race and every other personal achievement factor, the letter she received in the mail still would have said no.

It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

Neither Fisher nor Blum mentioned those 42 applicants in interviews. Nor did they acknowledge the 168 black and Latino students with grades as good as or better than Fisher’s who were also denied entry into the university that year. Also left unsaid is the fact that Fisher turned down a standard UT offer under which she could have gone to the university her sophomore year if she earned a 3.2 GPA at another Texas university school in her freshman year.

In an interview last month, Blum agreed Fisher’s credentials and circumstances make it difficult to argue — as he and his supporters have so ardently in public — that but for her race Fisher would have been a Longhorn.

“There are some Anglo students who had lower grades than Abby who were admitted also,” Blum told ProPublica. “Litigation like this is not a black and white paradigm.”

Blum started his one-man nonprofit, the Project on Fair Representation, in 2005. The organization is funded by deep-pocketed conservatives to, according to its website, influence “jurisprudence, public policy, and public attitudes regarding race and ethnicity” in voting, education, contracting and employment. To do so, Blum — who is not a lawyer — helps arrange pro bono representation to fight race-based policies that were meant to address inequalities.

According to a Reuters profile, Blum has brought at least a dozen lawsuits against such programs and laws — including four that made it to the Supreme Court. He has two on the current docket, Fisher and the Shelby County, Ala., case challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

In the Fisher case, while the young woman may have lent her name to the lawsuit, the case before the Court has very little to do with her. Her name appears just five times in the thousands of words that make up the body of the complaint. She has already gone on to graduate from Louisiana State University, her second choice, and is working in finance at a firm in Austin.

Asked by a news reporter what harm she had suffered, she cited only her inability to tap into UT’s alumni network and possibly missing out on a better first job. If she wins, Fisher seeks only the return of her application fee and housing deposit — a grand total of $100 in damages.

So while the Fisher case has been billed as a referendum on affirmative action, its backers have significantly grander ambitions: They seek to make the case a referendum on the 14th Amendment itself. At issue is whether the Constitution’s equal protection clause, drafted by Congress during Reconstruction to ensure the rights of black Americans, also prohibits the use of race to help them overcome the nation’s legacy of racism.

The Supreme Court has never ruled that the Constitution bars any and all laws and government programs that consider race. But Blum and his supporters, seeing an opening with the current Court, seek to overturn more than a century of precedent.

The true crux of the suit is not Fisher’s failed application, but that government officials violate the constitutional rights of white Americans when they consider race in a way that might help African-Americans and Latinos.

“An argument can be made that it is simply impossible to tease out down to the last student who would have been admitted, and who would have not been admitted, had they been a different skin color,” Blum said. “What we know is skin color is weighed and ethnicity is weighed by the University of Texas in their admissions process, and that alone is enough to strike down the plan.”

Blum and his supporters say the reasoning is simple. The Constitution is colorblind and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits the government from treating people differently because of race.

It’s an argument first successfully championed by the NAACP and other civil rights groups, most notably in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, in which the Supreme Court declared the notion of “separate but equal” to be a fallacy.

“In its history, colorblindness has this progressive, anti-racist push behind it,” said Ian Haney-López, a constitutional scholar at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

But following the Brown decision, the very groups that had ardently — and violently — defended laws mandating separation by race used the notion of a colorblind Constitution to challenge court orders to integrate schools.

“They began to say, yes, the Constitution is colorblind, and so the state cannot distinguish between races when it tried to remedy segregation,” he said.


As a result of Southern resistance, it would take six years after Brown before 6-year old Ruby Bridges, wearing crisp white socks and black-bowed shoes, became the first black student to attend a white elementary school in the South. The image of the diminutive brown-skinned girl who needed U.S. marshals to protect her from an angry white mob inspired Norman Rockwell to preserve the moment in a painting that now hangs in the White House occupied by the first black president.

Initially, the Supreme Court unambiguously knocked those arguments down. Ina 1971 ruling, it said that government could not mandate colorblindness when doing so would defeat the integration requirement of Brown v. Board of Education. A few years later, in a ruling on affirmative action, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take race into account. There is no other way.”

But as the Supreme Court’s make-up has grown more conservative, it has taken up a steady stream of so-called reverse discrimination cases, in which white plaintiffs have argued that race-specific measures born of the civil rights movement discriminate against white Americans and violate the 14th Amendment.

Supreme Court decisions have eroded programs and laws that use race to remedy inequalities, but not eliminated them altogether. And in a 2003 opinion written by centrist Sandra Day O'Connor, the justices narrowly upheld affirmative action in college admissions when it is the only means to ensure diversity.

But the Court’s make-up changed in what scholars consider a significant way when Samuel Alito, considered the third most conservative Supreme Court justice since 1937, replaced O'Connor in 2006. Since then, several justices have made their constitutional disdain for race-conscious programs known. In a controversial 2007 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts sent a clear message when he used the equal protection argument at play in Brown v. Board of Education to strike down voluntary desegregation plans in schools.

Evoking a colorblind Constitution, Roberts said, “The way to stop discriminating on the basis of race, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

And just last month during oral arguments over the constitutionality of a key aspect of the Voting Rights Act, Justice Antonin Scalia derisively called what’s considered the most successful civil rights law in history a “racial entitlement.”

Public opinion on race has changed over time as well. In the 1950s, surveys show, most white Americans believed that black Americans faced substantial discrimination but that they themselves experienced little. Today, despite gaping disparities between black and white Americans in income, education, health care, home ownership, employment and college admissions, a majority of white Americans now believe they are just as likely, or more likely, to face discrimination as black Americans.

Blum chose the University of Texas to mount what could be a decisive challenge to affirmative action in college admissions because it already had what was regarded as a “race-neutral” process — the Top 10 program. Since many Texas high schools remain segregated, taking the top 10 percent of students from black and Latino high schools ensured a substantial population of students of color at the UT.

As a consequence, Blum believed he could challenge whether the additional use of race to fill out the entering class passed constitutional muster.

To get standing in court, Blum needed a victim. That’s when he started looking for a version of the Brown family, someone who could represent the arguable hurt caused when public officials used race.

This approach, too, mirrors an NAACP tactic from half a century ago. Then, knowing the Supreme Court was unlikely to throw out segregation in one fell swoop, the civil rights group brought a narrower challenge to segregated school facilities first.

One of those cases, ironically, targeted the same university as Blum — the University of Texas at Austin. The university, which had been closed to black students since its founding, denied the law school application of Heman Marion Sweatt because the state constitution required that black and white students attend separate schools.

Because Texas had no black law school, the NAACP sued, arguing that the state violated the constitutional mandate to provide equal facilities for black and white students. The Supreme Court ruled that the hastily put together black law school created to avoid admitting Sweatt could not possibly be equal. It ordered Texas to admit Sweatt as its first black student in 1950.

That suit launched the stone that would shatter separate but equal just four years later when the Court struck down segregation in schools in Brown.

Blum and his supporters hope to use the Fisher case, and the 14th Amendment challenge to the Voting Rights Act that Blum is also behind, in the same way.

According to Blum, the Constitution sees affirmative action policies — in college, in contracting, in employment — and Jim Crow laws as twin evils.

“I don’t see the distinction,” he said.

But several constitutional scholars interviewed for this piece dispute this notion. Neil Siegel of Duke University called this interpretation of the 14th Amendment “perverse.” Georgetown law professor Girardeau A. Spann called it “discriminatory.”

While the 14th Amendment doesn’t mention race, the drafters went on to pass race-specific legislation aimed at helping former slaves and other black Americans overcome more than a century of racial oppression.

Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, said that the concept of colorblindness holds great rhetorical appeal but that “there is no basis for concluding that the 14th Amendment equal protection clause requires colorblindness.” In drafting the 14th Amendment, he said, Congress recognized “an enormous difference between a white majority disadvantaging minorities and a white majority acting to remedy past discrimination.”

Conservatives challenging these types of programs purport to champion the legacy of the civil rights movement, Haney-Lopez said, but the historical roots of their efforts are much more cynical.

“I think that is incredibly important that people realize that today’s proponents of colorblindness pretend that they are the heirs to Thurgood Marshall and John Marshall Harlan,” he said. “But that is a lie. They are the heirs of Southern resistance to integration. And the colorblindness arguments that they use come directly from the Southern efforts to defeat Brown v. Board of Education.”

Ilya Shapiro, a senior constitutional studies fellow at the Cato Institute, which filed an amicus brief supporting Fisher, thinks otherwise.

“I am not going to speak to anyone else’s motives. It is unfair to paint people with the Jim Crow brush because they have those kinds of arguments,” he said. “I don’t like people being judged based on the color of their skin.” If a program “treats people different because one has a different skin color, I find that offensive and I think the Constitution does as well.”

But when asked why the drafters created programs targeted to black Americans if they did not intend the Constitution to allow the government to use race to help minority groups, Shapiro said, “It was a curious period.”

At the same time Congress drafted the equal protection clause, he said, it also “voted for segregated schools in the District of Columbia.”

That example is the very same one that segregationists Strom Thurmond and Richard Brevard Russell used when they drafted the 1956 Southern Manifesto urging officials to resist the Supreme Court’s use of the equal protection clause to overturn school segregation.

The impact of a ruling that bans all racial considerations by universities, employers and governments “could have devastating impact on the ability to overcome past inequalities,” Siegel said.

Few experts think Blum and his supporters are apt to win that big a victory in the Fisher case. And so he will likely be on the hunt again for another case, and another perfect plaintiff.

Update, July 16, 2014: A federal appellate court has ruled in favor of the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action program, allowing the university to continue considering race as part of its “holistic” review process that also takes into consideration socioeconomic status, whether English is spoken at home and if students come from single-parent homes. In June of 2013, the Supreme Court avoided a larger ruling on affirmative action, instead remanding the case back to the lower court for reconsideration, saying the lower court had not properly applied “strict scrutiny” in judging UT’s use of race.

Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in a 2-1 decision ruled UT’s program was in fact narrowly tailored and did meet the “strict scrutiny’ standard.

"The impact of the holistic review program on minority admissions is already narrow, targeting students of all races that meet both the competitive academic bar of admissions and have unique qualities that complement the contributions of Top Ten Percent Plan admittees,” the Court wrote. “The data also show that white students are awarded the overwhelming majority of the highly competitive holistic review seats.”

The order also explicitly addresses the high degree of segregation in Texas schools, the often inferior education they provide, that its direct correlation to the lower test scores of black and brown students seeking admission to the flagship school.

Read the entire ruling here, and also ProPublica’s report examining whether whether class-based affirmative action is a good alternative to race-based.


h/t: Nikole Hannah-Jones at ProPublica, via AlterNet

slate.com
The Supreme Court Might Destroy Affirmative Action Because a White Woman’s Grades Weren’t Good Enough
In 2008, Abigail Fisher, who is white, sued the University of Texas at Austin for race discrimination. The school rejected her, and she blamed its affirmative action program, which considers race and ethnicity in a “holistic review” of certain candidates. “There were people in my class with lower grades who...

This case proves a lot more about white privilege than it does the injustice of affirmative action. Despite the fact that the US Department of Labor has found that in the last few decades, white women have benefited more from affirmative action than any other demographic, and despite the fact that Abigail Fisher simply did not have the grades to get into UT, she believed she was somehow entitled to a spot, and the fact she didn’t get in was because of reverse racism. How privileged do you have to be to believe that your grades don’t matter when it comes to your acceptance to a university? 

So I don’t know if y’all heard but the Supreme Court has decided to rehear Fisher v. University of Texas, the most recent huge affirmative action case. I’m going to refrain from throwing shade at Miss Abigail’s childish ass, because I left mess in 2014. 

I’ll just say this: It looks like seventy-three (73) amicus briefs (people who aren’t directly involved that are writing documents in support of a party or issue) were filed the first time SCOTUS heard it. Seventy-three against Fisher. Everyone and they mama wrote one–the NAACP LDF, the ACLU, the NEA, fifty-three Fortune 100 companies, even the fucking United States of America. I’m very encouraged by all this support (aesthetic though it may be) for affirmative action. Every Ivy League school wrote one together and the deans of Harvard Law and Yale Law wrote one together. But Columbia (Law) didn’t do anything by itself. 

I’m going to try to see if I can get the dean of CLS to do one this time around. See if I can work on it with her. I’ll tell y’all what happens with that. 


Here are all the briefs from last time: http://www.naacpldf.org/update/outpouring-us-supreme-court-amicus-briefs-filed-support-diversity-fisher-v-university-texas-a

thinkprogress.org
Coming Next: The Revenge Of The Supreme Court’s Conservatives
The next Supreme Court term is shaping up to be a much more conventional term, rife with longtime conservative boogie men waiting to be slain by the Court's right flank.

Something very unusual happened at the nation’s highest Court this year. The justices adjourned for their summer vacation and liberals were left feeling pretty good about the just-completed Supreme Court term. Marriage discrimination is dead, and Obamacare is alive. America’s civil rights laws were left largely intact, and state election laws were not cast into turmoil.

As we’ve explained, many of these outcomes most likely stem from conservative overreach — litigants looking to disrupt progressive legislation brought long shot cases because they were encouraged by the Roberts Court’s record of conservatism and decided to “press their luck.” In any event, it is unlikely that liberals will feel the same way about the next Supreme Court term as they do about this recently completed one. Based on two major cases that the Court has already agreed to hear, and a third that is likely to be added to the Court’s docket this fall, next term is shaping up to be a much more conventional term rife with longtime conservative boogie men waiting to be slain by the Court’s right flank.

Abortion: Although the justices have not yet agreed to hear a major abortion case next Supreme Court term, it is likely that they will hear at least one of two cases involving sham health laws that conservative states have enacted in an attempt to get around what remains of the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. States such as Texas and Mississippi enacted laws that, at a superficial level, appear to be designed to make abortion clinics safer and to ensure that physicians who perform abortions are well-credentialed. In reality, however, these laws do little to advance women’s health, while simultaneously subjecting clinics to regulatory burdens that will force many of them to close down. At the moment, the only thing keeping multiple Texas abortion clinics open is a temporary stay issued by a 5-4 Supreme Court preventing that state’s law from going into full effect.

The Court will likely announce whether they will hear a challenge to these sham health laws in the fall. If they choose not to hear the Texas case, that could cause almost as much damage to the right to choose in Texas as an adverse Supreme Court decision, as it will allow a lower court decision cutting deeply into reproductive freedom to take effect. Should the justices agree to take this case, which seems likely, the fact that Justice Anthony Kennedy agreed to grant a temporary stay halting the law is a positive sign for advocates of abortion rights.

Nevertheless, no one in the choice community should count on Kennedy’s vote Prior to the Texas law reaching the Court, Kennedy voted on 21 abortion restrictions and allowed all but one of them to go into effect.

Affirmative Action: Two years ago, the Supreme Court gave affirmative action an unexpected stay of execution. Though Court-watchers largely expected the Supreme Court to end race-conscious university admissions programs in Fisher v. University of Texas, the Court voted instead to send the case back down to a lower court for reconsideration.

A year later, the conservative United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the University of Texas’s affirmative action program once again. Then, just last week, the Supreme Court announced that they would hear this case for a second time.

Justice Anthony Kennedy has demonstrated that there is some distance between himself and the Court’s four other conservatives, who hold much more absolutist views on race. At the end of this recently concluded term, he voted with the Court’s liberals to preserve a key prong of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits race discrimination in housing. Nevertheless, there are several signs that he is unlikely to break with the Court’s conservative bloc in Fisher‘s second trip to the justices.

According to one judge, “it would be difficult for UT to construct an admissions policy that more closely resembles the policy approved by the Supreme Court” in 2003 then the aspect of Texas’s policy that is now being considered by the Supreme Court. Yet Kennedy dissented in that 2003 case — a strong sign that he’s already decided that the Texas admissions policy is unconstitutional. Indeed, at oral arguments in Fisher I, Kennedy accused Texas of creating an admissions program where “race counts above all.” That’s very bad news for defenders of affirmative action.

Unions: The Court also announced last week that it will hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that will send many public sector unions’ finances into turmoil if its plaintiffs prevail before the justices.

The core question in Friedrichs is whether non-members of a union can be required to compensate the union for the costs of bargaining on their behalf. Under longstanding law, unions are required to bargain on behalf of all workers in a unionized shop, regardless of whether those workers elect to join the union. Thus, members and non-members alike share in the higher wages and increased benefits that typically come along with unionization.

To prevent a free-rider problem, where workers elect not to join the union because they know that they will benefit regardless of whether they pay their share of the union’s bargaining costs, current law allows unions to charge what are known as “fair share” fees or “agency fees,” which cover each non-member’s share of the cost of bargaining on their behalf. Without these fees, public sector unions may struggle to raise the funds that they need in order to operate, and all workers in many unionized workplaces could eventually lose the benefits of unionization.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to limit many unions’ ability to charge these fees in 2014. That’s an ominous sign for public sector unions who have a stake in Friedrichs.


h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

Supreme Court case on Higher Ed admissions will change everything Fisher v University of Texas

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Liliana M Garces, Pennsylvania State University and Gary Orfield, University of California, Los Angeles Twelve years ago, after an epic legal battle over the University of Michigan’s affirmative action admissions policy in its law school and undergraduate school, the Supreme… Continue Reading →

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Supreme Court case on Higher Ed admissions will change everything Fisher v University of Texas

Supreme Court case on Higher Ed admissions will change everything Fisher v University of Texas

Liliana M Garces, Pennsylvania State University and Gary Orfield, University of California, Los Angeles Twelve years ago, after an epic legal battle over the University of Michigan’s affirmative action admissions policy in its law school and undergraduate school, the Supreme Court upheld the importance of student body diversity for the institution’s educational mission and the need to consider…

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slate.com
Fisher v. University of Texas: The Supreme Court might just gut affirmative action this time.

“Neither special circumstances nor grades were determinative. Of the 841 students admitted under these criteria, 47 had worse grades than Fisher, and 42 of them were white. On the other end, UT rejected 168 black and Latino students with scores equal to or better than Fisher’s.

To call this discrimination is to say that Fisher was entitled to a space at the UT Austin, despite grades that didn’t make the cut. It’s worth pointing out that the university gave her the choice of transferring from a satellite school, which she rejected.”

This passage alone is why this case baffles my mind. College admissions is typically a complex animal. UT’s policy is so simple; and yet, Ms. Fisher still doesn’t get the point. Yo mediocre ass was not qualified!

SCOTUS entertaining this appeal is a disgusting waste of time and resources.

Supreme Court to Again Review Higher Education Affirmative Action Case

In a week full of front-page news, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to again review the appropriateness of the University of Texas at Austin’s race-based admissions process in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The Supreme Court first reviewed the school’s consideration of race as a component of its admission process almost a year ago and remanded the case back to the…

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