The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Fisher v. The University of Texas today, an important case that will decide whether the University's race-conscious admissions policy violates the rights of some white applicants.
Specifically, the case concerns Abigail Fisher, a UT applicant who was denied admission and is arguing that the University's policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it allows officials to consider race when making admission decisions.
At the University of Texas, the top 10% of each high school class statewide is granted admission automatically. For those below the top ten percent, like Abigail Fisher, who was in the 11th percent, the University uses what it calls a "holistic review," where race is one of many factors considered.
University President Bill Powers says that race doesn't get much weight in the consideration, and and didn't play a role in Fisher's rejection.
On Starting Point this morning, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, who served as a defendant in two Supreme Court cases on affirmative action when he was president of the University of Michigan from 1996 to 2002, points out that the University of Texas' 10 percent policy is "unique to higher education."
"This case involves an usual set of facts," Bollinger says. "No other university uses that so it’s possible that the court just wants to look at that particular policy."
Bollinger also explains why he supports affirmative action, saying, "This is something that is part of the tradition in the United States of bringing people together from different life experiences to create a better, richer educational environment so all the students who are admitted to schools basically can do the work. We know that. They’re the very top students and within a pool of candidates and that’s how we select our student bodies."