The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in the latest battle over racial discrimination in the college admissions process.
The case at hand centers on Abigail Fisher, who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin but claims her grades and extra-curricular activities were far superior to those of students chosen ahead of her. Why? Fisher said it’s because she is white and was a victim of the university’s preference toward minority students. School leaders do not deny using race as a criterion but will not say how much of a factor that is in their admission decisions.
Last decade, the high court ruled that race could play a factor in law school admissions but could not be awarded a specific point value. That decision stemmed from a case at the University of Michigan.
Horace Cooper is co-chair of the Project 21 Black Leadership Council. He is also a former constitutional law professor and served as general counsel to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. He said the University of Texas deliberately thumbed its nose at the earlier court decision.
“The University of Texas decided, even though the case law showed for law schools you were given some leeway but for undergraduates you weren’t given that same leeway, decided to try it anyway and it is that the Supreme Court is going to be taking a look at,” Cooper said.
He is not certain which way the court will decide this case following today’s oral arguments. He expects the verdict to fall along the usual lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the deciding vote. Cooper expects a bit of a mushy decision. He predicts Kennedy will “tell Texas that they shouldn’t have adopted this policy, but I still think he’s going to allow for the concept of it to continue, at least in law schools.”
Cooper said the provisions put in place to prevent racial discrimination against blacks in the 1960s were absolutely necessary because qualified students were being denied access to higher education based on race. He said the same thing is now happening in the opposite direction.
“This is social engineering,” he said. “It’s the same kind of social engineering that led to Jim Crow. Government thought it knew which racial groups should go to school and which racial groups should not. It was wrong then. It’s wrong now.”