The Supreme Court is starting to question the affirmative action case dealing with a student who believes she was denied from the University of Texas because she is white.
The court recently heard arguments from the defense of Abigail Fisher, the student who claims she was not offered a spot in the university in 2008 because of her race. The University of Texas and its supporters say that universities must have the flexibility to consider race to ensure diversity. Those opposed say it is time to eliminate racial preferences, which they say are unconstitutional.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, backs up the university’s use of affirmative action. “There’s no quota,” Verrilli says. “Everyone competes against everyone else.”
Texas says the program is necessary to provide the kind of diverse educational experience the Supreme Court has previously endorsed.
Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor originally was in the group working in support for Fisher’s case. However, this is the first constitutional challenge to a race-based college admissions policy the Supreme Court has heard since the 2006 replacement of O’Connor with current Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Since 1997, about 30% of the new freshmen at the University of Texas were Latino or black. If the Texas plan is declared unconstitutional, people like Marie Bigham, director of college counseling at Greenhill School in the Dallas suburb of Addison, fear that minority students won’t return.
“My students of color, I worry they’re going to say that ‘these places don’t value what I bring,’” she says. “White students, too, will look elsewhere.”