A tale of two rulings: Affirmative Action

By on July 9, 2013

The Supreme Court vacated the opinion upholding the University of Texas’s admissions procedures based on race.

Affirmative Action is the increased representation of women and minority-group members, especially in a work or school setting.

The idea was first brought about with Civil and Women’s Rights acceptance into major universities and employment. Recently, the Supreme Court questioned if this action is necessary in our tolerant society.

In the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Abigail N. Fisher sued the University of Texas at Austin, saying that she was denied admission in 2008 because she is white.

In a 7-1 decision that both advocates and opponents of affirmative action claimed as a victory, the Court did not directly address the constitutionality of the University of Texas at Austin’s policies.

“I believe the Supreme Court sidestepped the issue. They could have done more, but I’m happy that the [affirmative action] issue was addressed properly,” said Melodi Stone, sophomore in Public Health.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who delivered the majority opinion, wrote that the lower courts did not “apply the correct standard of strict scrutiny.” Instead, the lower court “presumed that the school had acted in good faith” and required Fisher to show otherwise.

The decision stipulates that universities must show there are not race-neutral alternatives to affirmative action that can achieve the same goal.

Some colleges are not dwelling on the court case. According to the majority opinion, the burden of proof is on the university to show that “each applicant is evaluated as an individual and not in a way that makes an applicant’s race or ethnicity the defining feature of his or her application.”

UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D. said, “The Supreme Court’s decision to remand the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case regarding race-based college admission practices and affirmative action policy will not affect UAB policies and procedures, as the issues in this case are not applicable to any factors used for the purpose of admission at UAB; while we have achieved great diversity in our student population, race is not a factor considered for admission to UAB.”

UAB has, for several years, ranked among the nation’s top 10 universities in the Princeton Review for diversity and race/class interaction.

“Diversity is an important part of a higher education experience, and we take great pride in the environment we have cultivated for our students, faculty and staff,” said Watts.

Anjali Wagle
Staff Writer

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