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Law faculty discuss affirmative action Supreme Court case




Maurer School of Law faculty discussed the Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear Fisher v. University of Texas, a case regarding the University of Texas at Austin’s use of affirmative action when considering college applicants.

If the Supreme Court decides to overturn Fisher v. Texas, it could change the way universities, including IU, consider the factor of one’s race when admitting students.

Fisher v. Texas came about when a white student was denied admission at the University of Texas at Austin.

In the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, the plaintiffs argued that the University of Texas should not be able to consider one’s race when deciding whether to admit the
student.

In hearing the case, the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold the decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 decision upholding the use of affirmative action in admissions at the University of Michigan Law School.

The Moot Court Room was full to capacity as law professors Daniel Conkle, Jeannine Bell, Dawn Johnsen and Luis Fuentes-Rohwer spoke for five minutes each about affirmative action and related issues.

Professor Kevin Brown moderated the discussion.

Conkle spoke about the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson and potentially conflicting language within the decision.

“You have this theme of colorblindness, and on the other hand, you have this theme of avoiding castes,” Conkle said. “I think, to some extent, those competing poles influence the controversy that surrounds affirmative action.”

Bell warned about the dangers of discussing affirmative action in higher education and employment, calling such conversations “absolute minefields.”

“They’re essentially conversations about who should be a part of this community, and those are very difficult discussions to have,” she said.

She attributed the difficulty to the strong and personal opinions about the topic individuals have. Bell cautioned attendees to be mindful of conversations about affirmative action to avoid offending current peers and future colleagues.

Johnsen said the decision was fundamental.

She paid an homage to David Letterman with her five-minute segment, “The Top 10 Reasons the Supreme Court Should Uphold the University of Texas’ System of College Admissions.”

She said the University of Texas’ policy was carefully implemented and that the resulting diversity in itself created an educational experience.

The Black Law Students Association and Latino Law Students Association
sponsored the event.

­— Kirsten Clark

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