How Did Texas Teen End Up Challenging Affirmative Action Follow the Money

By Manuel McDonnell Smith


Twenty-three-year-old Abigail Fisheris a recent college graduate who has already landed a job in the financial-services industry in trendy Austin, Texas. In today’s economic climate for college graduates, she could be considered among the lucky few to have found employment and be on the way to building a career so soon after graduation. So how is it that Fisher ended up before the Supreme Court seeking“declaratory, injunctive, and other relief” due to violations of her civil rights under the 14th Amendment

As with many politically charged cases, the answer can be found by following the money trail. In Fisher v. University of Texas, a group of with strongly conservative beliefs and their cash is at every source, beginning with the plaintiff’s legal representation.

The filing has been the primary case ofThe Project on Fair Representation (POFR), a one-man legal-defense fund whose sole purpose is to “facilitate pro bono legal representation to political subdivisions and individuals that wish to challenge government distinctions and preferences made on the basis of race and ethnicity.” POFR considers itself a nonprofit and is solely funded by Donors Trust, a 501(c)(3) established in 1999 with the mission of supporting “ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise”core beliefs of the conservative movement.

If the financial backing is not enough to establish that Fisher’s case is a conservative cause, then a look at POFR’s Director should be.Edward Blum is listed as a “visiting fellow” of the American Enterprise Institute, the well-known, D.C.-based think tank committed to promoting capitalism and other related values. According to ProPublica Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, Blum more than anyone else should be considered the father of this legal challenge. In a recent interview on NPR, Jones explained how Fisher was the product of Blum’s search for the perfect face for his cause.

Jones says that Blum “put a call out looking for plaintiffs. He wanted to find white applicants who were pretty good students but whose grades just fell below that top 10 percent cutoff. [Any Texas high school student who graduates in the top 10 percent of his or her class is guaranteed a spot at UT.] And he actually was contacted by Abigail Fisher’s father, who was an associate of Blum’s. And he told him that his daughter had, in fact, been denied admissions and that he was willing to lend her name to the suit.” And that was the beginning of the road to the Supreme Court.

Hannah-Jones’ ProPublica story further reveals that Fisher’s lawsuit is really not about race or even about Fisherher name appears just five times in the body of the complaint, and “in the hundreds of pages of legal filings, Fisher’s lawyers spend almost no time arguing that Fisher would have gotten into the university but for her race.”

Instead, Hannah-Jones writes that Blum and his supporters’ true motive is to “make the case a referendum on the 14th Amendment itself” and build widespread public support for the dismantling of race-based policies across the nation. And with the financing and management structures already in place to support their goals, it’s clear that efforts of those who wish to see the impact of civil rights legislation minimized are sure to continue, regardless of SCOTUS’ ruling. Get readythis is just round one.

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