The Obama administration weighed in on affirmative action for the first time at the Supreme Court on Monday, urging that university admissions preferences for qualified black and Latino students be upheld.
"Race is one of many characteristics (including socioeconomic status, work experience and other factors) that admissions officials may consider in evaluating the contributions that an applicant would make to the university," U.S. Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr. said in his brief, siding with the University of Texas.
In October, the high court will hear the appeal of Abigail Fisher, a rejected white applicant who sued the Texas university alleging she was a victim of illegal racial discrimination.
The justices' decision to take the case spurred speculation that the court's conservatives were determined to end race-based affirmative action.
For decades, the court has been closely split on whether the Constitution and its guarantee of "equal protection of the laws" forbids state universities to give an edge to minority applicants. When the court previously ruled on the issue, a 5-4 majority led by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said universities had a "compelling interest" in achieving racial diversity on campus. Since then, O'Connor has retired and been replaced by the more conservative JusticeSamuel A. Alito Jr...
...Only eight justices will decide the Texas case. Justice Elena Kagan, who was Obama's solicitor general when the administration supported Texas in a lower court, will not participate. If the court were to split 4 to 4, the lower court's decision in favor of the University of Texas would stand.
[The case is Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, 11- 345.]
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment