UT professors argue for Fisher

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Editor’s note: As part of our effort to publish a wide range of perspectives about Abigail Fisher’s case against UT we have included a summary of an amicus brief filed in support of the plaintiff.

The Texas Association of Scholars is an organization of 100 academics who teach at colleges and universities in this state. With UT law professor Lino Graglia and UT philosophy professor Robert Koons counting themselves among its members, TAS filed one of the 19 friend of the court briefs last month supporting Abigail Fisher, the plaintiff in a race-discrimination case against UT. Fisher and the University are scheduled to have their arguments heard at the U.S. Supreme Court in October.

Fisher, who is white, has told the courts she was disadvantaged when UT denied her admission in 2008 by following a policy that allowed for racial consideration. She claims that UT, which takes into account the race of non-top 10 percent applicants, violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.

Agreeing with Fisher, TAS states in its 42-page brief that the organization “[o]pposes the alleged rationales for the University using any type of racially based preferences in its admissions process.

“These preferences are not only bad law, they are bad education policy for sociological, psychological and historical reasons,” TAS argues.

The brief alleges that “the University engages in two racially and ethnically discriminatory admissions practices, which constitute racial and religious discrimination that violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection requirements.”

The brief contends UT grants a “plus factor” to increase an applicant’s chances if the applicant is black or Hispanic, but denies similar considerations for Asian-Americans or members of any religious minorities. TAS also disapproves of the Top Ten Percent law, which commits UT to admitting any student graduating in that tier of his high school class. “A student whose GPA places him (or her) will be admitted, even if in another school, the identical grade point average would place that student in the bottom 10 percent,” the brief states.

The brief approves of the practices at UT’s rival in College Station, noting administrators there “refused to use any form of racially based admissions criteria,” and adding: “This has not diminished the quality of education at Texas A&M.”

Referencing the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous admonition about judging people by their character and not by their skin color, the brief argues that UT — with its Top Ten percent rule and holistic race consideration admissions policy for those who do not get in automatically — deploys a “de facto quota system to regulate admissions.”

The brief argues that former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed an illusion in Grutter, a 2003 decision that marks the most recent instance that the high court allowed for race-based considerations in higher education institutions. In her opinion, O’Connor wrote that “any race-conscious measure must have a logical end point and must be limited in time.” But about race-based preferences, the TAS brief argues: “Once started, they will never stop.”

UT “instituted the policies to protect its institution’s political interests,” TAS argues. Specifically, the brief contends, the school is “currying favor with minority populations—and politicians…”

“Diversity is not a state interest, let alone a compelling one,” the brief states, disputing the language of the Grutter decision. “Political expediency is not a compelling state interest to violate the civil rights of everyone in Texas who is not African-American or Hispanic…,” TAS argues.