The United States Supreme Court yesterday granted certiorari in Fisher v. University of Texas, which means that it will examine the University’s undergraduate admissions policies once again. The Court had remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in June, 2013, with instructions to hold the university’s admissions program to “strict scrutiny,” a judicial standard which places the burden of proof on academic institutions to justify any use of racial classifications in admissions or hiring. In 2014, a three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit once again upheld the university, and Fisher appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. Consistent with our longtime opposition to racial preferences, NAS joined the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Center for Equal Opportunity, the Civil Rights Institute and Project 21 to file an amicus brief in support of Fisher’s petition.
It’s impossible, of course, to know what to expect next June, when the decision will likely be handed down. The acceptance of Fisher’s appeal means that at least four of the Court’s nine justices are not satisfied with the university’s response to the remand, and it’s likely that Justice Elena Kagan, who had supported the Texas program as Solicitor General under President Obama, will recuse herself as she’s done previously. How the other justices come down in the case is anyone's guess. Our hope is that a majority will at long last use the opportunity to correct course after the Court's unfortunate misstep in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision and hold that race-based policies are simply incompatible with the 14th Amendment. Real justice demands no less.