US Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in public universities

The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that race and ethnicity can be taken into consideration when deciding college admissions, upholding a contested affirmative action scheme at the University of Texas.

PTI June 24, 2016 12:35:37 IST
US Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in public universities

Washington: The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that race and ethnicity can be taken into consideration when deciding college admissions, upholding a contested affirmative action scheme at the University of Texas.

The long-running case was brought by a white woman named Abigail Fisher, who claimed she was denied a spot at the university because of her ethnicity.

The court ruled against her by a narrow majority of four to three, one of its eight sitting justices having recused herself in the closely-watched case.

US Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in public universities

Representational image. News 18

Fisher graduated from a different institution in 2012. But her case continued its way through the courts. It reached the Supreme Court in 2012, but the justices sent it back to a Texas appeals court for review.

In 1978, following years of civil strife across the country, the Supreme Court affirmed the limited use of race as a factor in admissions.

It reaffirmed that finding in 2003, but stipulated that so-called affirmative action is legal only if racial quotas are not used.

The University of Texas, carefully threading that needle, devised a policy guaranteeing admission to high school students graduating in the top 10 percent of their class.

Most students at the university are admitted under the so-called "Top 10 Percent" program which itself has produced significant racial and ethnic diversity.

But Fisher's challenge concerned another part of the admissions program, which takes into account athletics and other extracurricular activities — as well as ethnicity.

For opponents of affirmative action such as Fisher, college admissions decisions "should be based on merit and not on any other external factor."

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