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Landmark Affirmative Action Case Revisited

Today marked an interesting day in American legal history, as the Supreme Court announced that it has agreed to hear a challenge to the University of Texas’ affirmative action program. Currently, it is being used as a means to sort through all the in-state applicants who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, but this race-neutral way may come to an end.

After a federal appeals court in 1996 banned affirmative action in Texas’ public universities, the law was overturned in 2003 by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, approving of “certain types of race-conscious admissions practices” in higher education. It seems the argument of racially equal education will be again under question, as that way of thinking may no longer hold sway at the high court.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, who has since replaced O’Connor, struck down affirmative action programs in public high schools in 2007 alongside Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.

With Fisher v. University of Texas potentially able to be argued (but not decided) in the fall, does this mean the best way to stop race discrimination is to stop discriminating on the basis of race? Or will this racially charged issue be another talking point as we dive deeper into the election season?

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