Faith-based institutions expect affirmative action case to affect them
Published: October 19, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Supreme Court case over affirmative action in university admissions involves a state school, the University of Texas at Austin, but the outcome will have ramifications for private and religious institutions as well. The court heard oral arguments Oct. 10 over whether Abigail Fisher was the victim of discrimination when she was turned down for admission to the university in 2008. In suing the university, Fisher argued that she was denied a spot at the school because she is white and the institution's admissions policy gives unfair preference to racial minorities. Among the material available to the justices in deciding the case are about 100 "amicus" or friend-of-the-court briefs from hundreds of organizations, including Catholic universities, weighing in on how it should be decided. The federal District Court and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the university, which uses a state system giving automatic admission to the top 10 percent of the graduating class of each high school in the state, regardless of race and other factors. In 2008, applicants falling under that part of the admissions policy accounted for 81 percent of the freshman class. The remainder of the slots, according to the admissions plan, went to students whose applications were weighed on criteria including race, community service, work experience, awards and extracurricular activities. In defending their admissions policy, the university argues that it serves the school's and its students' interests in providing racial diversity and that the court has supported just such an approach in previous rulings, most recently in Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003. That's a standard that a wide assortment of other universities and civil rights organizations wants to see upheld. And that entities with other perspectives would like to see scrapped as unnecessary to achieve diversity. They say sufficient diversity comes through race-neutral means such as the top 10 percent admissions plan.
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