Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin is the ongoing case of Abigail Fisher, a young woman who claimed in 2008 to have been rejected from UT-Austin because she is white. While the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her lawsuit, the Supreme Court overturned the decision and sent Fisher back to the 5th Circuit. The justices ruled that in approving UT-Austin’s admissions policy, the lower court had not applied the standard of “strict scrutiny” required in affirmative action cases.
The court did not reverse previous decisions upholding racial preferences, but it said Texas’ policy was unconstitutional. That is, the courts still allow universities that receive federal money to have racial preferences in admissions, but there is a point at which such preferences become illegal. The exact line is being drawn.
The 5th Circuit in November heard oral arguments in Fisher, but has not issued its ruling. In any event, Blum, whose one-man Project on Fair Representation recruited Fisher, has named UNC-Chapel Hill as one of his next targets. He intends to bring a lawsuit highlighting Carolina’s admissions practices.
Why Chapel Hill?
In UNC-Chapel Hill’s Fisher brief, the university said that if it had adopted a race-neutral plan similar to the University of Texas plan, its racial diversity would increase by 1 percent, but its median SAT score would drop by 55 points.
Blum says the brief shows that UNC is unwilling, as required, to try a race-neutral plan — such as a “top 10” plan — before implementing a plan including racial preferences.
Blum said he is “swamped,” and that his three websites, as of April 25, had nearly 20,000 visits and hundreds of responses. He added that there are “dozens and dozens of individuals who we believe” may have a legitimate case. He readily admits, however, that finding the next Abigail Fisher is not easy.
“People don’t like lawsuits, people don’t like courtrooms, and they don’t want to be in courtrooms with lawyers.”