Supreme Court Takes Up Affirmative Action

Source: Stephanie Condon / CBS News

Affirmative action is rarely discussed on the campaign trail, but it nevertheless is a matter of heated debate in Washington this year.

The Supreme Court today will hear an hour of arguments in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which asks the court to rule on whether the university’s consideration of race in admissions is constitutional. Abigail Fisher, a 22-year-old white woman who was rejected from UT Austin in 2008, has filed suit against the school, arguing its consideration of race doesn’t meet standards previously set by the high court. If the court rules against the university, it could potentially change the way schools across the nation talk about race.

The response to Fisher’s case proves that while affirmative action has been a matter of debate for decades, it remains a potent one. Dozens of individuals and organizations have given their input to the Supreme Court through amicus briefs — 17 briefs filed to support Fisher and 73 in support of the university.

Republican Rep. Allen West, Ronald Reagan’s attorney general Ed Meese and the libertarian Cato Institute all signed onto briefs backing Fisher. On the other side, the court is hearing from the likes of Democratic Senate leaders Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, Teach for America and the American Psychological Association. Dozens of organizations in favor of the school’s system plan on holding a rally outside of the Supreme Court today.

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