Photo: Kevin Russell, SCOTUSblog
The Supreme Court heard historic arguments today in 22-year-old Abigail Fisher’s fight against the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action policy.At UT, the top 10 per cent of students from every high school receive automatic admission. It considers a host of other factors–including race–for students who aren’t admitted through the so-called “top 10” program.
Fisher’s lawyer Bert Rein said he didn’t think the court would necessarily have to overrule its 2003 affirmative action ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger.
Sotomayor accused Rein of wanting to “gut” Grutter, though.
In that case, the Supreme Court ruled the University of Michigan could use race as one factor to achieve a “critical mass” of minorities necessary for a diverse campus.
But Rein said the “odious classification” of race should be used narrowly.
“So, you don’t want to overrule, Grutter, you just want to gut it,” Sotomayor shot back, prompting Rein to say, “Excuse me?”
“You just want to gut it. You don’t want to overrule it, but you just want to gut it … Now you want to tell universities that once you reach a certain number, then you can’t use race anymore.”
It seems Sotomayor has cut to the heart of the issue. We’ll have to wait and see whether a majority of the court wants to eviscerate its previous affirmative action decision.
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