In the fall of 2012, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from attorneys representing Abigail Fisher – a young woman denied entrance to the University of Texas in 2008 – and the U.S. Solicitor General representing the university. Ms. Fisher, a Caucasian woman, filed suit against the university claiming it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment when it used race as a factor during its admissions selection process.
Previous affirmative action cases involving admissions to publicly funded universities, such as The University of Michigan in Grutter vs. Bollinger, set a precedent that race could be used as a factor in admissions. However, the use of race in admissions processes must meet the standard of strict scrutiny set forth in another affirmative action precedent – Regents of The University of California vs. Bakke. Ms. Fisher’s contention was that the University of Texas’ practice of using race did not meet the standard set in that case.
This deliberation will provide students with the history of affirmative action policies and practices in the U.S. and opposing opinions on the constitutionality of such policies. Follow the lesson plan instructions to provide a comprehensive unit on affirmative action and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment using the C-SPAN videos and Classroom Deliberations materials.
Teaching About Affirmative Action
Fisher Case Overview - SCOTUSblog
The Fisher argument in Plain English - SCOTUSblog
Affirmative Action Timeline - Annenberg Classroom
Support Affirmative Action
Oppose Affirmative Action
Supreme Court Argument Article
Argument Recap: Will Grutter be Reshaped? - SCOTUSblog
Supreme Court Hearing Clips
Solictor General Verrilli on the role of race in the admission process in regards to the Equal Protection Clause (4:19)
Attorney Bert Rein on what constitutes a "critical mass" of minority students in public universities (1:57)
Fisher vs. The University of Texas decision from the Supreme Court website LINK