2943 SMU Boulevard
Dallas, TX 75205
- Prof. Elise Boddie, Rutgers School of Law-Newark
- Prof. Gail Heriot, University of San Diego Law School
- Jeffrey Rosen, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Constitution Center
On March 10, 2016, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Rothe Development Corporation v. Department of Defense. Rothe alleges that Congress has failed to bring a statutory racial classification under section 8(a) of the Small Business Act into compliance with subsequent Supreme Court precedent as well as a 2008 decision in which the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (in litigation also involving Rothe) unanimously struck down a Department of Defense affirmative action program as unconstitutional racial discrimination. The program struck down in Rothe required the DoD, the Coast Guard, the Air Force, and NASA to ensure that five percent of all contract dollars be awarded to individuals or businesses designated as disadvantaged individuals. Our expert argued the case before the D.C. Circuit.
On December 9, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. This is the second time the case has come before the high court.
Abigail Fisher, a white female, applied for admission to the University of Texas but was denied. Fisher sued the University and argued that the use of race as a consideration in the admissions process violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court held that the University’s admissions process was constitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. The case went to the Supreme Court (Fisher I), which held that the appellate court erred in how it applied the strict scrutiny standard, improperly deferring to the University’s good faith in its use of racial classifications. On remand the Fifth Circuit again ruled in favor of the University, deeming its use of race in the admissions process narrowly tailored to a legitimate interest in achieving “the rich diversity that contributes to its academic mission.”
The question in this case is whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University of Texas at Austin’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions decisions can be sustained under this Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Fisher I.
To discuss the case, we have Joshua P. Thompson who is Principal Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court’s 7-1 ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas required race-conscious college admissions programs to be subject to strict judicial scrutiny, mandating that such programs be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest. On remand, the Fifth Circuit upheld the University of Texas’ admission policy as meeting that standard, but the case will once again be considered by the Supreme Court, and was argued on December 9. What are the issues now under consideration, and what are the arguments of each party? Why has the case returned to the Court a second time?
Gail Heriot, Professor of Law at the University of San Diego school of law, discusses Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in which the Fifth Circuit re-endorsed the use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions decisions. Fisher alleges that the use of such preferences violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The University of Texas denies violating the Constitution.