Iowa joins 13 other states in urging Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action
DES MOINES, Iowa: Iowa has joined the 13 other states that are encouraging the United States Supreme Court to uphold racial preferences in the college admissions decision process. The 14 states, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, are responding to a lawsuit brought by two white, Texas residents Abigail Fisher and Rachel Multer Michalewicz against the University of Texas, filed in 2008. After being denied admissions in 2008, Fisher and Michelewicz are challenging the university’s admissions policy that takes race into consideration. They claim the policy is a violation of their constitutional and civil rights.
According to Texas officials, race is just one of the numerous factors considered during the admissions process, including academic record, leadership potential, personal essays, honors and awards and extracurricular activities. In compliance with previous Supreme Court rulings, Texas policy and practice prohibits race being used to set quotas. Most students admitted to the University of Texas rank among the top 10 percent of their high school class.
A federal appeals court has upheld Texas’ policy, confirming that it was in-line with Grutter vs. Bollinger. The Supreme Court ruled in the 2003 Grutter vs. Bollinger case that racial considerations are acceptable in the admissions process at the University of Michigan Law School. Fisher has appealed the federal court ruling to the Supreme Court.
The spokesperson for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller acknowledged that there are no pending Iowa cases related to this one, but their involvement was based on the fact that the case involves a larger legal issue.
“Iowa law says it’s the duty of the attorney general to ‘prosecute and defend all causes’ in appellate court cases where the state is a party ‘or interested’” Miller’s spokesperson told the Associated Press when asked about Iowa’s involvement in the case.
Fisher vs. The University of Texas will be the first time since 2003 that the Supreme Court has ruled on affirmative action in higher education. The current court is considered more conservative than the one that sat in 2003.
Other states involved in the brief are Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Also involved are the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The case is Fisher v. Texas, Case No. A-08-CA-263-SS.
- District Court Ruling by Judge Sam Sparks: Fisher v. Texas, Case No. A-08-CA-263-SS.
- Appeals Court ruling: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, 631 F. 3d 213 - Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
- Grutter vs. Bollinger