The Obama administration filed a brief this week urging the Supreme Court to uphold controversial racial preferences and affirmative action in public, federally subsidized university admissions, claiming that the government has a “vital” interest in perpetuating the use of race-based quotas and that the practice does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s “equal protection” clause. The case, Fisher v. University of Texas, surrounds a white student who alleged that she was unconstitutionally denied admission due to her race.
Plaintiff Abigail Fisher claims that in 2008, she suffered from illegal discrimination when the University of Texas at Austin rejected her application in favor of less-qualified applicants who happened to be of a minority race. Because racial affirmative-action policies are aimed at increasing so-called “diversity,” however, the university and the federal government argue that the use of race as a factor in admissions should be permissible despite the Fourteenth Amendment.
The government “has a vital interest in drawing its personnel — many of whom will eventually become its civilian and military leaders — from a well-qualified and diverse pool of university and service-academy graduates of all backgrounds who possess the understanding of diversity that is necessary to govern and defend the United States,” U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. wrote in the government’s brief supporting the affirmative-action schemes of the University of Texas.
Lawyers from five federal departments co-signed the brief along with disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Despite claims that America had entered a post-racial era with the election of President Obama, the administration is essentially arguing that an applicant’s race can offer insight into his or her potential value to the government and higher-education institutions.
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Photo of the Gregory Gymnasium at the University of Texas at Austin