UT supporters and opponents gather outside the Supreme Court before Fisher hearing

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A long line of spectators hoping to see the Fisher v. Texas case unfold has formed outside the Supreme Court building this morning. Media outlets are also preparing for the protests culminating around noon, when lawyers will descend the steps of the court after argument.

A procession of civil rights organizations siding with the University will convene on the steps of the Supreme Court this morning while the Justices hear arguments in the case.

Reverend Al Sharpton, representing the National Action Network, will be among several speakers addressing an anticipated crowd of nearly 1,000 people around noon. Other speakers include representatives from UT student organizations, the National Pan Hellenic Council and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

These groups, along with those who filed briefs on behalf of the University, worry the court may author a decision eliminating the ability of universities to use race as a factor in admissions.

“Many universities are concerned the Court will issue a broad ruling, either completely repudiating it’s conclusion in Grutter that a diverse student body is a compelling interest, or that [universities] will be held to an excessively rigorous standard of proof that race-conscious policies are absolutely essential to accomplish racial diversity,” said Paul Wolfson, author of a brief filed on behalf of UT by the Ivy League in a conference call last week.

Other speakers will focus on what supporters say are the beneficial consequences of affirmative action on Asians. Fisher’s legal team has argued Asians harmed by policies of affirmative action.

Asians in some ethnicities are among the most underrepresented groups in college campuses, said Thomas Mariadason, staff attorney for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“Despite the image of being a model minority, Asians have a lot of diversity,” Mariadason said. “Many Asian students have to overcome a lot of obstacles to achieve diversity. In cities like Philadelphia, huge Vietnamese and Cambodian communities are struggling in ESL classes just to understand what’s going on.”

Mariadason said it was likely the decision in this case will rest on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has gained a reputation as the “swing vote” in deciding cases since Justice Sandra Day O’Connor stepped down in 2006.