Affirmative Action: What If the Supreme Court Ends It?

Will the Supreme Court's verdict on Fisher v. University of Texas undo the last 10 years of diversity progress in higher education?

Corporations struggling to develop a qualified pipeline of Black and Latino talent soon may face additional challenges in reaching their diversity and recruitment goals. It all depends on how the Supreme Court rules in the Fisher v. University of Texas case.

The lawsuit before the court on Wednesday could result in the reversal of the college's affirmative-action admissions policies—and potentially deem all instances of race-based criterion in higher-education admissions "unconstitutional." This would overturn the landmark Grutter v. Bollinger decision in 2003, which upheld the use of race as one of multiple factors when determining acceptance.

If Fisher Wins & Affirmative Action Ends …

Educational and civic leaders are "very concerned that a [negative] decision will impact any and all incoming students from high school or transfers," said Ben Reese, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE). "We are looking for an admissions system that is inclusive of all the qualities that students bring, including race, not stunting the growth of community colleges and four-year schools and building an appropriate workforce."

Collateral consequences of a Fisher win would be a narrowing of Black and Latino admissions to four-year colleges only, which would limit community-college transfers and increase pressure on smaller, two-year schools that already are strained and turning students away because of limited budgets, according to executives representing nine higher education associations.

These include: The American Association for Affirmative Action, American Council on Education, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Association of American Medical Colleges, College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and NADOHE.

"Too much is at stake. We need to build truly inclusive learning environments and can't afford to go backward at this point," they said.

The Case

Abigail Fisher, a white high-school student, filed the lawsuit in 2008 after she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin, which she claims was unequal treatment because of reverse discrimination and, therefore, a violation of the14th Amendment. Project on Fair Representation, a legal-defense foundation, is representing Fisher. Watch this organization's video on the case below.

Learn more about the case and affirmative action by watching the video above, then read these articles:

Is Affirmative Action Over?

Affirmative Action Foe Ward Connerly Comments at the DiversityInc Conference

Why We Still Need Affirmative Action

Talent Development Creates Ability for INROADS Students to Succeed

Corporate Diversity: Outreach With Rutgers Future Scholars Enhances Talent Pipelines

DOJ Seeks to End Affirmative Action — Claiming Discrimination Against Whites: NYT

Trump throws more fake red meat to his base, diverting attention from repetitive management failures, uncovered lies, Republican legislator push back and the lowest approval ratings of any president at this point in his term.

The U.S. Justice Department is potentially planning to redirect resources of its civil rights division to investigate and possibly sue universities over admissions policies deemed to have discriminated against white applicants.

Read More Show Less

Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action

A 4-3 majority ruled to uphold a higher education affirmative action program.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled this morning to uphold an affirmative action program at the University of Texas, determining that using race as a factor in the admissions process to achieve greater diversity is constitutional.

Read More Show Less

Supreme Court Justices Challenge Affirmative Action at Universities

"I'm just not impressed by the fact that — that the University of Texas may have fewer [Black students]. Maybe it ought to have fewer," Justice Antonin Scalia said.

Justice Antonin Scalia

Just as the racially charged protests at colleges and universities across the country gradually died down, affirmative action in higher education is now taking center stage as a heated discussion takes place in the Supreme Court — where one justice has already questioned if Black students even have a place in competitive schools.

Read More Show Less

ADA 25 Years Later: Definite Progress But Hiring Gaps Remain

As the Americans With Disabilities Act celebrates its 25th anniversary July 26, significant gaps remain in hiring the 19 percent of Americans with disabilities. New laws aim to improve the efforts of federal contractors and help people with disabilities save more.

Photo by Shutterstock

On July 26, 1990, when former President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law, it was heralded as the beginning of a new era of improved access and employment for people with disabilities.

Read More Show Less