College: Affirming or Demurring Affirmative Action

by Daniel Stein, Editor-in-Chief

Affirmative action, a federal agenda initiated by President John F. Kennedy with the intent to counterbalance historic discrimination suffered by ethnic minorities, has once again emerged as a hot button issue up for debate in the Supreme Court.

With increasingly selective admission into elite universities, minority students have, under the umbrage of affirmative action programs at College campuses nationwide, received a statistical advantage when compared to non-minority students. Universities routinely recruit minorities to appear as a diverse community, but those selfsame minority students can be sometimes less qualified than other applicants. Students who are Asian or Caucasian repeatedly confront greater hurdles in matriculating into the same university as a student from an ethnic minority. Some assert that affirmative action is Unconstitutional, and they claim it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Others insist affirmative action promotes diversity and compensates an ethnic minority that suffered historic discrimination. The fate of this controversial program will be decided once more by the Supreme Court of the United States this autumn.

In 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger that affirmative action does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. In this particular case, University of Michigan Law School allocated special consideration for racial minority applicants. In the majority opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor indicated that, sometime in the future, racial affirmative action would no longer be essential in order to bolster diversity.

It is now nine years later, and the Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear the case of Fisher v. University of Texas. In this legal proceeding, a Caucasian student was denied admission into the University of Texas and claims that the University discriminated against her in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. While this Supreme Court’s decision will not influence college admissions for the High School Class of 2013, this verdict will certainly impact the High School Class of 2014 and future classes. One has to wait and see how the nine justices evaluate the Constitution to determine the fate of millions of college decision letters.