A victory for affirmative action

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(NNPA)—Almost lost among the news last week about the war in the Middle East and a war of another kind in Washington between Republicans and President Obama was a bit of good news:  A federal appeals court, acting on a case remanded by the Supreme Court, upheld the University of Texas’ modest affirmative action program.

Celebration of the victory is expected to be short lived because it is certain that the Supreme Court, which remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit last summer, will take the case up again, this time ruling directly on whether the university’s carefully crafted affirmative action program is constitutional.

Unlike the court’s last affirmative action ruling involving Michigan—which had less to do with the merits of affirmative action and was more about whether a state ballot initiative could be used to ban affirmative action—the Texas case goes to the heart of affirmative action.

The lawsuit was brought by Abigail Fisher, a White applicant who was turned down for admission to the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s flagship university, in the fall of 2008. Texas operates a Top Ten Percent Plan, which grants automatic admission to state universities to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class.  The year Fisher applied, 81 percent of the university’s admission slots was filled in that manner.

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