Saturday, December 12, 2015

Supreme Court's Comments on Affirmative Action are Negative

As many of us may have heard during the court presentations, Fisher vs University of Texas was meant to be the last word on affirmative action for a while. Justice O'Connor wrote "We expect 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary." For supporters of affirmative action, this was a great victory. Affirmative action was decided to be constitutional in theory, but some restrictions were placed on it. Yet, barely 2 years later, the Supreme Court looks to decide on the case once again.

Why do Courts revisit cases?
The court doesn't often revisit cases. Once a decision has been made, it's typically unlikely that justices will have changed their mind. Often, the only time a a court will revisit a case is when at least 4 justices think that they have the votes needed to overturn the case. So does this mean affirmative action is about to be overturned? Many supporters are worried that the answer is yes.

Abigail Fisher
Source: Associated Press

Negative Comments:
Chief Justice John Roberts questioned whether racial diversity had educational value, asking "What unique perspective does a black student bring to a class in physics?"

Justice Samuel Alito suggested that by seeking even more minority students, University of Texas is belittling its current minority students.


Questions:
1. Do you support affirmative action? Why or why not?
2. What do you think will be the result of this case?

6 comments:

Anna Joshi said...

Like you said, justices typically revisit a case if they think they have the support to change the outcome of that same case. Since the justices have decided to vote on the case again, I believe that there is a high chance that the justices will overturn Affirmative Action. The four justices who voted for the case are banking on Justice Kennedy to vote with them in the new vote, subsequently giving them the majority to overturn it. One of the main arguments the justices are using to overturn this decision is the Mismatch Theory, the idea that many students selected based off race are more likely to “learn less than they would [than] if they attended a college more closely matched to their level of academic preparation” (New York Times). On Friday, Justice Antonin Scalia used this theory to back up his reasoning, saying that “most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas…they come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re—that they’re being pushed ahead in—in classes that are too—too fast for them” (New York Times). Although I was unable to look further into his argument, I do know that his assertion has caused him to receive much criticism, leading me to reevaluate my initial response, and wonder whether this criticism will have a big enough impact to affect the outcome of the case.

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/us/with-remarks-in-affirmative-action-case-scalia-steps-into-mismatch-debate.html

Adjon Tahiraj said...


I support affirmative action because in its intent, it is trying to make up for the unfairness that minority races are thrown into because of being born in that certain race. Therefore affirmative action is trying to equalize the inequality.

I think this cases will not get too far with the courts, I think affirmative action will stand because it has a lot of support.d

Annika Olives said...

I want to comment on this quote by Roberts: "What unique perspective does a black student bring to a class in physics?"

This makes me angry because I don't believe that a white student and a back student will necessarily have "unique perspectives" on an academic subject, (physics will always be physics), but they may have different outlooks on life.

That, to me, is the point of having ethnic minorities at a university. Race plays a big part in background and if everyone is white, they may have similar backgrounds and, therefore, similar viewpoints. Getting rid of those minority groups means that those white students may not have the chance to see how the other half of the country thinks and lives.

Isn't the point of college to widen students' scopes of the world? How will they be able to do that if everyone is the same?

Lea Tan said...

Affirmative action will always be a controversial subject, and that, I believe, is why the court has decided to revisit the topic. Each year, it gets harder to get into college, and each year, more people contribute it to affirmative action. I think it was first used to level the playing field, to help those that do not have the money/economic status to go to college. I support this; I don't see anything wrong with trying to create equality among all races. However, like lawyer and political commentator Susan Estrich says, "Affirmative action was never meant to be permanent, and now is truly the time to move on to some other approach." Once the playing field becomes equal, affirmative action turns into reverse discrimination, which is really only worse. But when will the playing field be equal, and when will we know that it is?

I agree with Annika that you really can't classify "unique perspectives" on academics based on race. Your race may give you different life experiences, but what kind of unique perspective does a white student have versus a black student when talking about physics? The white student's perspective certainly isn't more valuable than the black student's. I know getting rid of affirmative action does not equate to zero diversity, but I support increased diversity within schools in order to not only increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities but also help others gain new perspectives and ideas.

Sameer Jain said...

I think that the fact that the Supreme Court is revisiting so many cases (Citizens United, Fisher v Texas) is slightly alarming. Not only does this show a lack of respect for precedent and the previous judges, but also a lack of respect for what the Supreme Court even stands for. While it is inevitable for politics to play a role in the SCOTUS, it cannot be the basis for overturning previous decisions. The current judges know they have a political majority in the court right now, and are using that to overturn older decisions.

This is also an issue because it clutters the SCOTUS agenda with older issues rather than actual present issues that may actually need decisions. I'm not sure exactly what else the Supreme Court could be deciding on, but I know it shouldn't be the same older cases that have already been decided.

Nevan Samadhana said...

I also agree with the points above that diversity is something that colleges should aim for in order to take in as many viewpoints as possible which is why I support affirmative action but I don't think that in this case Fisher is being discriminated against by the school. She did not place in the top ten percent of her class which would have automatically allowed her admission into the school and the school also rejected 168 Black or Latino students who had grades equal to or better than Fishers. Her only argument is that she received better grades and did more activities than the other applicants. I could understand why she would be upset if she scored better grades than every other applicant but she clearly did not.
Source: https://youtu.be/23VDkyygWSg