WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Local students are weighing in on a Supreme Court case questioning the University of Texas’ use of race in college admissions — a case that could lead to new limits on affirmative action.
The justices heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to the program from a white Texan who claims she was discriminated against when the university did not offer her a spot in 2008.
The court’s conservatives cast doubt on the program that uses race as one among many factors in admitting about a quarter of the university’s incoming freshmen.
Justice Anthony Kennedy at one point said Texas was arguing that race counts “above all.” Kennedy’s vote could be critical to the outcome.
Twenty-two-year-old Abigail Fisher was among the hundreds of spectators at the arguments.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a supporter of affirmative action, was among advocates on both sides of the issue who gathered outside the court.
While quieter than other protesters who have converged on the court for big cases, several people held signs proclaiming their support or opposition to affirmative action. One man held an “End Affirmative Action Now,” while another women held a “Diversity (equals) Success” sign.
The university says the program that fills roughly a quarter of its incoming classes uses race among many factors and argues that it is necessary to provide the kind of diverse educational experience the high court has previously endorsed. The rest of its slots go to students who are admitted based on their class rank, without regard to race.
Opponents of the program say the university is practicing illegal discrimination by considering race at all.
Meanwhile, students at Temple University weighed in on the case.
“Race shouldn’t be part of the consideration,” said one temple student talking about the admissions process.
“I came here because if the diversity which is an important part if the college experience,” said another sophomore temple student.
“If they do away with affirmative action there will be an unfair advantage for groups that already have been given advantage in life,” said a senior sociology major.
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