Gurumurthy Kalyanaram Reports on What should be the role of consideration of “race” as an element in admissions to US Colleges and Universities?
Gurumurthy Kalyanaram Reports on What should be the role of
consideration of “race” as an element in admissions to US Colleges and
This began with a lawsuit by Abigail Noel Fisher and Rachel Multer
Michalewicz who applied to the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and were
denied admission. The two women, both white, filed lawsuit, alleging that the
University had discriminated against them on the basis of their race in violation of
the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Gurumurthy Kalyanaram discusses the current state of this vital public
policy question on consideration elements to admission to universities and
In answering this important question, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Fisher v.
University of Texas, 133 S. Ct. 241, hasheld that due deference to the University’s
experience and expertise regarding whether student body diversity is a compelling
interest must be given, but the University also had to prove that the means it chose
to attain that diversity were narrowly tailored to achieve its goal. Based on its
decision, the lawsuit was remanded to the Fifth Circuit.
The Supreme Court called for a strict scrutiny, without defining what that
strict scrutiny meant. The Court forcefully explained that meaningful strict
scrutiny must always be applied to a college’s use of race, and added that a
reviewing “court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral
alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity” (without
discussing whether the word “workable” takes account of the university’s other
educational goals — such as assembling a student body with good academic
credentials.) For now, the Court has not defined the thresholds and/or parameters
of what might constitute strict scrutiny.
Overall, it appears that race-based affirmative action can continue. As a
result of all this, educational institutions remain more or less free to continue to do
what they have been doing, provided they are more careful in their justification.