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Rev. Jackson ‘disappointed’ in Supreme Court’s decision in affirmative action case

Updated: June 25, 2013 10:44AM

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said today that he is “disappointed” in the Supreme Court’s decision to send an affirmative action case back to an appeals court for more scrutiny.

Abigail Fisher, who is white, filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 alleging that the school’s affirmative action policies excluded her from admission. The appeals courts took the university’s side in 2009 — and Fisher appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the higher court sent the case back to the appeals court to scrutinize the case again and make sure UT-Austin admissions takes race into account only as one factor in acceptance decisions for student body diversity.

The higher court’s decision, 7-1, to send the case back to the appeals court had only one dissenter, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who, like Jackson, said there was no need for the lower courts to review the case.

“I would not return this case for a second look,” wrote Ginsburg. “As the thorough opinions . . . show, the University’s admissions policy flexibly considers race only as a ‘factor of a factor of a factor of a factor’ in the calculus.”

During a news conference in Chicago, Jackson said the Supreme Court could have affirmed the lower court’s decision; he said the highter court’s decision to send the case back to the appeals court for further review is unnecessary.

“As Justice Ginsburg observed a decade ago, the use of race in admissions need not be strictly scrutinized when the category is used to include historically-excluded minority groups,” Jackson said. “We can still use affirmative action in higher education.”

In 2008, in accordance with the automatic admissions law passed in 1997, UT-Austin accepted the top 10 percent of each Texas high school’s graduating class, without looking at each student’s race. Other students were accepted or rejected through a standard application process, which took race into consideration.

Fisher was not in the top ten percent of her class at Austin High School in Sugar Land; she believes that she would have been accepted if she were not white.

Monday’s decision was one of the “big three” that the Supreme Court is expected to make this week before the end of the current term. The others involve the Voting Rights Act and same-sex marriage.

Contributing: Associated Press

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