Arguably one of the most important cases of the Supreme Court’s upcoming term is that of affirmative action in college admissions. According to the Washington Post, more than 50 friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed by outside groups and individuals.
And now the Obama administration has had its say in the matter—it wants universities to continue allowing race to be taken into account when considering applicants.
“The government… has a vital interest in drawing its personnel—many of whom will eventually become its civilian and military leaders—from a well-qualified and diverse pool of university and service-academy graduates of all backgrounds who possess the understanding of diversity that is necessary to govern and defend the United States,” the administration writes in its friend-of-the-court brief, citing as examples the Department of Defense and the Armed Services, federal law enforcement and homeland security, the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies.
The case, Fisher v. University of Texas, was first filed in 2008 when Abigail Fisher, a white student who was denied entry sued for racial discrimination. She argued that the school, which operates on a “Top Ten” plan for student admissions that accepts the top 10 percent of students from the state’s high schools, violated her 14th Amendment right.
Something the Obama administration also sites in its brief, by saying it has a “significant responsibility for the enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment…which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin,” as reason for its support of the University of Texas in the case.
Fisher was ranked by other factors, including race. Her attorney’s argue that the top 10 approach has already increased diversity, making a race-based approach unnecessary.
The affirmative action case will be under review an eight-member court—Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself—including Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has voted against race-based programs in the past.