Supreme Court will hear affirmative action case

The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to take on an affirmative action case in college admissions, in what promises to be a politically-charged case which will throw the spotlight on affirmative action in the upcoming presidential elections.

The New York Times said the court’s decision on this case has the potential to undo the 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which said colleges and universities could not use a point system to influence minority numbers, but could take race into account to maintain diversity. The decision could either limit the use of affirmative action during admissions or forbid using race at all.

In this particular case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Supreme Court will hear whether two white female applicants, Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz, lost their spots in the freshman class due to the university’s race-conscious admission policy which they claimed was not “narrowly tailored,” according to NPR.

Due to the court’s schedule, the arguments on this particular case could be set for October, said Politico, potentially making affirmative action one of the key issues during the presidential elections.

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The Washington Post said the Obama administration has put its support behind the University of Texas in this case and said colleges and universities can still take race into consideration in order to have a diverse campus.

The current make up of the Supreme Court with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. joining the other conservative members of the court would likely mean five votes to overturn the Grutter v. Bollinger decision which was written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor before she retired, according to The Times.

In 2007, Roberts' opinion said school districts should not assign students to elementary or high schools to create a better racial balance, stating, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," according to The LA Times.

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