Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Affirmative Action Suit Challenges UT Admission Policy

The Texas Tribune
by Morgan Smith July 21, 2010

If two young women have their way, the University of Texas may soon rival the University of Michigan as the nation's top breeding ground for affirmative action jurisprudence.
Abigail Fisher and her co-plaintiff, Rachel Michalewicz, are the faces of a movement to overturn a landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court opinion allowing the use of race in the admissions process at the Michigan Law School. Their chosen target is UT, which denied them both admission in 2008. They believe that happened because they're white.
On Aug. 3, the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in their lawsuit, which has attracted widespread attention from the legal community, including an amicus brief from the Obama administration in support of the university’s position. The case threatens to reinvigorate an ideological skirmish that reached its peak in the late 1990s.
Fisher and Michalewicz’s challenge to the use of race is the first in an undergraduate setting since the high court handed down Grutter v. Bollinger and its companion case, Gratz v. Bollinger — a pair of decisions that articulated how schools could use race-based affirmative action to select their incoming classes. The current plaintiffs lost in district court, in a 2009 ruling that affirmed the university’s policies were within constitutional bounds set forth in Grutter, which allows schools to use race as factor in the holistic consideration of candidates. (Explore annotated versions of both sides' appellate briefs and the district court's opinion here.)

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