Supreme Court to Revisit Affirmative Action in Texas Case

David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2012

After a U.S. appeals court struck down race-based college admissions in Texas 16 years ago, the first Mexican American woman elected to the state Legislature proposed a simple change that transformed education in the state.

Rep. Irma Rangel said all students who graduated in the top 10% of their high school class should win admission to the state’s colleges, including the highly regarded University of Texas. Her bill, signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush, opened the door to higher education for Mexican American students from the Rio Grande Valley, for black students from Dallas and Houston and for rural white students.

It also changed the University of Texas at Austin. Last year, 36% of those admitted under this policy were Latino or black, double the percentage of “underrepresented minorities” in 1996, the year affirmative action was struck down.

But the university chafed at the “top 10%” law and said its success relied on continuing segregation in many high schools. Left out too were many talented minority students from integrated, highly competitive high schools.

So when the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that universities may consider a minority student’s race as a “plus factor” in admissions, UT officials added a new affirmative action policy to go along with the automatic admission rule. For these new students—about one-fourth of the freshman class—their race may play a role in who is admitted.

The effect of the new policy has been modest. Nine in 10 of the Latino and black students admitted to UT in the last two years came as “automatic admits,” not as beneficiaries of affirmative action.

Nonetheless, UT’s lawyers must now defend their race-based admission policy before a more conservative Supreme Court, which will revisit the issue thanks to Abigail Fisher, a white student from Sugar Land, Texas. She was turned down by the university in 2008 and says she was a victim of illegal race discrimination.

The case poses a new question for the court, which will hear arguments next month. Can affirmative action be justified if a university is achieving diversity without using race? {snip}

The top 10% law, recently amended to admit the top 8% of graduates, has not only boosted diversity, but it has also brought other benefits. Since the mid-1990s, the graduation rate at UT-Austin has risen steadily. Studies showed the graduates admitted under the law outperformed others with higher SAT scores.

“It’s had a profound impact. Before, about 10% of the high schools filled 75% of the freshman class seats here,” said law professor Gerald Torres. Two years ago, the campus announced that for the first time, a majority of its freshmen were minorities: Latinos, Asians or blacks.

And nearly all these new students earned admission solely because of their academic performance.

{snip}

The Texas case is being closely watched by higher education leaders nationwide, many of whom worry the court is ready to strike down or scale back affirmative action.

{snip}

Florida and California have used such policies to increase diversity after their affirmative action plans were halted in the 1990s. The results have been mixed.

In California, students who graduate in the top 9% of their high school class are admitted to the University of California system, but not necessarily to the campus of their choice. UC officials also give extra consideration to students who faced social and economic hardships.

The percentage of Latino students at UC has been rising steadily, but officials attribute this mostly to the surge in the Latino population. Despite their best efforts, they say, UC Berkeley and UCLA have fewer black students than in 1996.

UC President Mark G. Yudof was formerly the chancellor at the University of Texas. The automatic admissions policy “works well in Texas, but not so well in California,” he said, because Texas has more segregated schools. UC’s lawyers told the high court they had tried race-neutral policies, but achieved “limited and disappointing results.”

{snip}

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  • Today’s SCOTUS is not “more conservative” than the one in 2003.  Every Justice that has retired since then has been replaced by a nearly ideologically identical replacement.

    • The__Bobster

      But one that is more incompetent….at least on the liberal side.

  • Oil Can Harry

    I seem to remember Dubya bragging during his 2000 debate with Al Gore the Bore about his “affirmative access” program, which guaranteed the top 10% of students in each high school would be admitted into college.

    Bush brayed that this was a conservative alternative to affirmative action.

    Guess what? The liberals have taken Bush’s program and piled regular affirmative action on top, making it twice as discriminatory towards whites.

  • William_JD

    “It’s had a profound impact. Before, about 10% of the high schools filled 75% of the freshman class seats here,” said law professor Gerald Torres. Two years ago, the campus announced that for the first time, a majority of its freshmen were minorities: Latinos, Asians or blacks.

    Um, no.  Since 2003, all of its students have been minorities.

  • Epiminondas

    It would appear that the entire country is now under Reconstruction.  Now I know how Southerners felt in 1870.

  • Texan1st

    “Two years ago, the campus announced that for the first time, a majority of its freshmen were minorities: Latinos, Asians or blacks.”

    What does that mean?  In Texas, Latinos are not a minority.  According to the 2010 US Census, they are the majority.  But as we see, even when Whites are no longer a majority, those in charge will still seek ways to grant others preferential treatment at the expense of Whites.

    • Sorry but…these are the Latinos:  Italians, French,Romanians, Portuguese and Spaniards. The right name for the people in the article is Ibero-Indians because the Latins come from Italy and not from Spain, The Latin Language comes from Italy and not from Spain. The Latin Culture comes from Italy and not from Spain. Spanish-speaking people of the “Americas” have nothing of Latin except the origin of their languages.

      You may want to visit the following sites for better understanding:
      http://www.mexica-movement.org
      http://www.real-latins.org

      Now on topic I would say that  I hope that the U.S. Supreme Court  will stop this  travesty and let the Southern States be free  to make their own decisions.However, based on past performance, I don’t trust  those skunks of Chief Justices and Justice Kennedy.

  • Athling

    A people willfully advancing and financially supporting a hostile racially alien minority group over and above their own people is unprecedented in human history.

    • mobilebay

      Well said Athling, but with the present climate in today’s society nothing is fair.