harlan logo

Fisher v. University of Texas

February 19th, 2013
Fisher v. Texas
Table of Cited Authorities
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
Grutter v. Bollinger
Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment
Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District no.1
Ricci v. DeStefano
Statement of Argument:
In 2003 the Supreme Court ruled on Grutter v. Bollinger in a 5-4 decision stating that  “…admissions program that gave special consideration for being a certain racial minority did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment”. In 2008 Ms. Fisher challenged this ruling when she was denied admission to the University of Texas, Ms. Fisher believes she was denied due to her race and other minorities were accepted over her due to affirmative action. In the State of Texas students who graduate in the top ten percent of their high school class are automatically accepted to all  the Texas public universities including the University of Texas. Ms. Fisher believes that she was not accepted due to her race along, and had sufficient grades in order to get into the University of Texas. The University believes that in order to keep the student body diverse they would use race as a factor in admissions (due to precedences such as: University of California v. Bakke, and Grutter v. Bollinger, this action deemed legal by the Supreme Court) although the University of Texas argues that it uses race in a “Highly individualized and modest process” and is only a factor of a factor. We have taken the side of the University of Texas believing they are well within their lawful rights and did not violate Miss Fishers rights guaranteed by the constitution. The university acted well within their rights as stated within Grutter v. Bollinger, University of California v. Bakke, and the Equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment states are unable to enforce laws that deny a person equal protection of the laws. Because of that, state’s attempt to diversify their student base by using affirmative action. But Ms.Fisher believes that she faced racial discrimination from the university.

Bakke v. University of Californa

In the Bake v. University of California case affirmative action was brought up to the attention of the supreme court. Bakke, a thirty three year old white male applied for over a dozen medical colleges, although having served as a Marine in vietnam and having worked for NASA for over a decade, he also had a 3.51 GPA. Despite all this he was declined to twelve different medical schools. After meeting with an interviewer he was told that his application was rejected simply based on his age. Mr. Bakke reapplied again in 1973 and 1974 although he was rejected both times despite his academic and work achievements his applications were being rejected over other “special applicants” who were almost all minorities with much less merit and even lower grades than Mr.Bakke. In 1974 the special admissions committee of the University Of California   stated to Mr.Bakke that “They would only be considering applicants who were from explicitly stated minority groups”. Despite the fact that countless caucasians  have applied through this “special admissions program” not a single one was admitted to the University Of California medical school. After his second and final rejection Mr.Bakke filed an action in a state court for mandatory, injunctive and declaratory relief against the University of California. Mr.Bakke stated his belief that the University was violating his rights guaranteed by the 14th amendment’s Equal protection clause by accepting people and rejecting other simply based on their race. The University of California stated that their special admissions program was lawful. The trial court deemed a admissions program based on a racial quota was unconstitutional and did violate Mr.Bakkes rights. The Supreme Court upheld the lower courts ruling but they also stated that Affirmative action is lawful. Ms.Fisher was not a victim of such illegal racial quota admissions system in the University of Texas like Mr.Bakke was. But as the University of Texas stated that her race was a factor of a factor  which is legal under affirmative action as ruled in University of California v. Bakke. The University of Texas was well within their rights as they used Affirmative action instead of a racial quota system.

Grutter v. Bollinger:


In 1999 Ms. Grutter applied to the University of Michigan Law school after scoring a 161 on her LSAT admissions test and making a 3.8 grade point average. Then in 2000 she filed a suit against the University of Michigan Law school claiming that she was denied simply based on her race and that she was discriminated against because of her race which she clamied was illegal under the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause. She also believed the University of Michigan law school used race as a predominant factor in her admissions process. The University of Michigan argued that the admissions process used affirmative action in order to keep a “critical mass” of minority students, specifically African Americans and Hispanics, in order to keep the student population of the University of Michigan diverse. They also wanted to create this “critical mass” in order to make sure that the minorities do not feel isolated and are socially active within the school and to create an intellectually and culturally challenging environment in order to create a more active and to challenge stereotypes. The case eventually escalated to the District court who ruled that the admissions process in fact violated Ms. Grutters rights guaranteed by the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. Later the 6th district court ruled that the admissions program was in fact constitutional and upheld by the case California v. Bakke.  And then the Supreme court affirmed the district court’s ruling stating that the University of Michigan was well within their rights and their actions were not illegal as stated by various other precedent court cases. This case will be used as a precident in the Fisher v. University of Texas who also use a “critical mass program” in order to keep diversity and to challenge existing stereotypes in the future. Ms. Fisher was denied due to the University of Texas using a similar program as the University of Michigan.

As seen in the Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District there is another situation involving affirmative action yet this time it is in a High School setting. This will give us a different insight on the situation because it is a whole new setting. In this district students in high school get to chose which high school to attend. Due to the fact that some schools are over picked then others, the school administrators have to pick who will come to that school. When considering their options the most important factors are the students race. When deciding who goes where, while considering race, this diversities each school. In doing so it violated the Equal Protections Act because they had to diversify so some students wouldn’t get their top pick just because a school need to be more diverse, ie. due to race which was deemed unconstitutional by the supreme court.
Now to take a look at the Ricci v. DeStefano case. Just as the previous case we discussed this as well takes a look at the discrimination of race. But this puts it in a new scenario. What happened was twenty firefighters were said to have been denied promotions due solely to the firefighters race, which has been deemed unconstitutional and landmark cases prior.  There were one hispanic and nineteen white men that ended up performing better than minority candidate’s for the promotion and because of that the department threw away the results of the test and said that there will be no promotions handed out. According to the Supreme Court, The department violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which was a major civil rights case of its time period finally giving African Americans full anti-discriminatory rights)  . In this case we can see real discrimination happening. Decisions were solely based on the race of the firemen involved.
Decisions strictly related to only race is not seen in Ms. Fishers case. What we see is the university not considering Ms. Fisher as a possible candidate to attend the University of Texas due to the fact that Ms. Fisher did not even meet the minimum requirements to attend the school in the first place. So one could say that this is a strong reason why she was not considered, not the fact that she was white and the school was trying to diversify, thus causing her to be thrown out as a possible candidate to the school. Lets take a look at Ms. Fishers scores and see how they match up to the University of Texas’s minimum requirement.
When we look at the SAT score requirements in 2005 for the University of Texas was 1400 which is generally an average grade for the SAT.This simply makes Ms. Fisher average in her class and was not a statistical oddit. She also was a B average student and was in no way a academic scholar she was very average and nothing really set her apart but her race. She is claiming that the school declined her admission based on her race when in reality race was much likley a minor factor as stated by the University of Texas.

When looking at previous Supreme Court cases such as California v. Bakke, where we sat a university reserve spots for minorities in order to divercity. Grutter v. Bollinger, which put a “substantial weight” on potential applicants in order to attempt to diversify the school, and several other cases. Al of these cases related to college admissions based on race have a common theme of affirmative action and protecting the rights of minority and non minority students.They also involve in some ways the 14th amendment’s establishment clause and each of these Supreme Court landmark cases have affirmed the fact that Affirmative action is not in fact illegal or unconstitutional. These landmark cases will work against Ms.Fisher and will not make her look to good in front of the supreme court and will most likley result in her loss of the lawsuit but it will possibly challenge the 14th amendment’s establishment clause and its relationship with affirmative action and other college admissions programs.
The University of Texas at Austin did not perform and preference on a specific minority class or just minorities in general. There was no intent to give any specific preference to minorities. By the evidence presented we can all see that Ms. Fisher did not even reach close to the requirements to get herself into the school. Had she had an SAT score that got her closer to the University of Texas in Austins minimum requirement then she would have been look at closer as a possible candidate to attend the school. That aswell goes for their Grade Point Average. Although Ms.Fisher had service hours and was was a relatively average student she was not the best and the University of Austin was well within her rights in order to decline her application over someone elses regardless of race, this case would be a none problem if  she was declined over lets say another caucasian.
Knowing that we can’t say that the school discriminated against Ms. Fisher because she did not even meet requirements so how can she say she was not looked at due to her race when she wouldn’t have even been looked at because she does not score near to the University of Texas’s minimum requirements.
As our conclusion when reviewing the outcome of previous Supreme court cases we can say that there was no preference placed on Ms.Fishers race. Other schools have strictly said that their schools do place strict requirements on their levels of racial diversity and only accept a certain number of people from each race.