Advocates for affirmative action in the United States secured a major victory Thursday as the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the constitutionality of the controversial program. The court concluded that, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, affirmative action is legal.
Abigail Fisher, the plaintiff in the case and a white woman, said the University of Texas at Austin had considered race in the admissions process and that she was therefore at a disadvantage because she is white.
When Fisher applied in 2008, she failed to meet the cutoff for automatic admission into the school, which was offered only to the top 10 percent the graduating class that year. Fisher had a 3.59 GPA and a 1180 out of 1600 on her SAT. Since she missed that top mark, she had to compete for 841 additional spots that were reserved for students who weren't in the top tier.
In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito — joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas — argued that the University of Texas hadn't shown "compelling interests" to justify their reliance on race to accept minority students and that the school only considered the number of minority students — not other qualifications or concerns. He wrote that "something strange" had happened since the court first considered the case in 2013. At the time, the court said the school should show that compelling interest; Alito argued that the court is now showing deference to the school instead.
"Although UT claims an interest in the educational benefits of diversity, it appears to have paid little attention to anything other than the number of minority students on its campus and in its classrooms," he wrote. "UT’s 2004 Proposal illustrates this approach by repeatedly citing numerical assessments of the racial makeup of the student body and various classes as the justification for adopting a race-conscious plan."
"This is nothing less than the plea for deference that we emphatically rejected in our prior decision," he wrote. "Today, however, the Court inexplicably grants that request."
Here are some of the key takeaways from the dissent and the dissent can be found here:
Justice Thomas also wrote a dissent saying that the Constitution doesn't favor race-based policies.