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A Victory for Affirmative Action

By George E. Curry NNPA Columnist | 7/25/2014, 10:19 a.m.

For example, the court noted, “Of the incoming class of 2008, the year Fisher applied for admission, holistic review contributed 19% of the class of Texas students as a whole – but only 12% of the Hispanic students and 16% of the black students, while contributing 24% of the white students.”

In 2003, the Supreme Court, in Grutter v. Bollinger, upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action in a case involving the University of Michigan Law School. The court’s 5-4 majority accepted the assertion that diversity is essential to the educational mission of universities, but required a standard of “strict scrutiny” be applied, requiring that remedies be narrowly tailored to achieve the goal of a diverse student body.

The University of Texas, following a long, documented history of racial animus, complied with that narrow Supreme Court standard and the Fifth Circuit originally sanctioned those efforts. The decision was appealed and the Supreme Court sent the case back to the appeals court. Now, for the second time since 2011, the 5th Circuit judges have stated unequivocally that UT is operating a lawful affirmative action program.

That was evident to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the lone dissenter in the 7-1 decision to send the Texas cases back to the 5th Circuit. She said, “…Like so many educational institutions across the Nation, the University has taken care to follow the model approved by the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger.”

But this conservative-dominated Supreme Court will probably visit this case yet again, trying to find a way to chip away at one of its own rulings.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com.