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Malik KherajChicano 150Prof. Romero; T.A Carissa GarciaJune 1, 2015Fisher v University of TexasThis week’s case of affirmative action focuses on the constitutionality of race being used as a deciding factor in the admissions process. This case is a US Supreme Court Case, which nullified the lower appeal court’s ruling in favor of the university and sent the case back, holding that the lower appellate court didn’t apply the standard of strict scrutiny to its admission program. They didn’t follow what was stated in the Grutter v. Bollinger and the Regents of UC v.Bakke. Grutter v. Bollinger held that race did play an appropriate, although limited role in the admissions process and policies of public institutions. The court initially took the decisions of both those cases instead of looking at the constitutionality of race being used as a factor in the holistic process of college admissions. This case was brought to attention because of two white students, Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz, who applied to the University of Texas in 2008 and were denied admission.Abigail Fisher, a Caucasion female, was not in the “Top-Ten-Percent” of her class so she was competing with other students outside of that “Top-Ten-Percent” bracket. Those students outside of the bracket would have race considered as one factor of the admissions process. They sued stating they were denied admission based on their race which was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. This put fear in the civil rights groups, for they thought the Courts decision would end affirmative action, if they voted in favor of Fisher. The lower courts upheld the
university’s policy stating that it meets the standards presented by Grutter v. Bollinger. Since raceneeds to be narrowly tailored, therefore they stuck with Grutter’s case decision. Although they based their ruling on the Grutter case, Patrick Higginbotham said that the increasing number of minorities gained admissions under the “Top Ten-Percent Law” makes this hazy in regards to thelegality of the Grutter case admissions program. The decision by the United States District Court was upheld and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit panel. Then in 2011 Fisher’s lawyers appealed and filed a petition seeking review from the Supreme Court. Rachel Michalewicz dropped out of the case in 2011. They granted certiorari on February 21, 2012. The justices listened to the oral arguments of the case and overall concluded that the more than half of the justices disliked the university’s position. The Supreme Court remanded the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, since they failed toapply strict scrutiny in their decision. Justice Anthony Kennedy stated the opinion for the 7-1 majority, which was the Court held cases like these are reviewable under the Fourteenth Amendment and must be looked over under the strict scrutiny standard to determine whether these policies are “tailored to serve a compelling government interest”. If this standard is not metthen race can’t be part of the admissions process. This case was sent back to the Fifth Circuit court in June of 2013. Where the judges focused on the universities definition of “critical mass” along with the patterns and attempts to increase minority enrollment. On July 15th, 2014 the United States Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the University of Texas Austin where they decided that universities can use race as part of the entire admissions process as long as it achieves diversity.