Should race be a factor in admission processes at publicly funded universities?

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

Support Affirmative Action

Courtney Bowie, ACLU Racial Justice Program (2:43)

Oppose Affirmative Action

Stuart Taylor, National Journal (5:09)


Supreme Court Argument Article

Argument Recap: Will Grutter be Reshaped? - SCOTUSblog