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Equal Protection Clause

Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 7-12-16 featuring Roger Clegg
Roger B. Clegg July 12, 2016

On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Fisher v. Univ. 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 at Austin (the University) 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.”

On its second trip to the Supreme Court, the question was whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University’s use of racial preferences could be sustained under the Equal Protection Clause. By a vote of 4-3, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Fifth Circuit. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the court, which held that the race-conscious admissions program in use at the time of Fisher’s application was narrowly tailored and lawful under the Equal Protection Clause. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Alito also filed a dissenting opinion, in which Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas joined. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

To discuss the case, we have Roger B. Clegg, who is President and General Counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity.

Evenwel v. Abbott - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 5-16-16 featuring Andrew Grossman
Andrew Grossman May 16, 2016

On April 4, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Evenwel v. Abbott. As required by the Texas Constitution, the Texas legislature reapportioned its senate districts after the publication of the 2010 census, formally adopting an interim plan that had been put in place for the 2012 primaries. Plaintiffs, who are registered Texas voters, sued the Texas governor and secretary of state, asserting that the redistricting plan violated the one-person, one-vote principle of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, by failing to apportion districts to equalize both total population and voter population. A three-judge district court ruled in favor of the state officials.

On appeal, the question before the Supreme Court was whether the three-judge district court correctly held that the “one-person, one-vote” principle under the Equal Protection Clause allows States to use total population, and does not require States to use voter population when apportioning state legislative districts.

By a vote of 8-0, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the three-judge district court. Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court, holding that constitutional history, precedent, and longstanding practice demonstrate that a state may draw its legislative districts based on total population. The Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined Justice GInsburg’s opinion for the Court. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Alito also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, which Justice Thomas joined except as to Part III-B.

To discuss the case, we have Andrew Grossman, who is Partner at Baker & Hostetler, LLP.

Education Reform and Equality of Opportunity - Event Audio/Video

2016 National Student Symposium
Clint Bolick, Cynthia G. Brown, William A. Galston, Amy Wax, Jennifer Walker Elrod, Abby Hollenstein March 04, 2016

Equality of opportunity is supposed to be a fundamental American principle. But it is not being realized today – in large part due to our failing education system. Despite being better funded, American public schools consistently lag those of comparable countries. The disparity is especially stark in inner-city and minority school districts, where poor children are most in need of quality education. Is school choice the solution? What role should the federal government play in education? And what legal issues are implicated by reform efforts?

This panel was presented at the 2016 National Student Symposium on Saturday, February 27, 2016, at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Panel IV: Education Reform and Equality of Opportunity
Caplin Auditorium

  • Hon. Clint Bolick, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Mrs. Cynthia Brown, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
  • Dr. William Galston, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
  • Prof. Amy Wax, Robert Mundheim Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Moderator: Hon. Jennifer W. Elrod, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • Introduction: Ms. Abby Hollenstein, 1L Committee Co-Chair, University of Virginia School of Law Student Chapter

University of Virginia School of Law
Charlottesville, VA

Capitalism and Inequality - Event Audio/Video

2016 National Student Symposium
Paul G. Mahoney, Dan McBride, Yaron Brook, Thomas B. Edsall, Jason Johnston, Steven Teles, Jerry E. Smith March 04, 2016

Free markets have exponentially improved the well-being of humanity and lifted more people out of poverty than any government program. But severe inequalities persist, and gaps have widened in the past thirty years. Is this a problem in and of itself? Or only to the extent it is caused by unfairly distorting the market with the help of government – so-called “crony capitalism" – as opposed to the inherently unique capabilities of each individual? How should the law be structured to ensure a level playing field?

This panel was presented at the 2016 National Student Symposium on Friday, February 26, 2016, at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Welcome and Opening Remarks
Caplin Auditorium

  • Dean Paul Mahoney, Dean, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law, and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Introduction: Mr. Dan McBride, President, University of Virginia School of Law Student Chapter

Panel I: Capitalism and Inequality
Caplin Auditorium

  • Dr. Yaron Brook, Executive Director, The Ayn Rand Institute
  • Prof. Thomas Edsall, Adjunct Professor of Journalism, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
  • Prof. Jason Johnston, Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Prof. Steven Teles, Associate Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
  • Moderator: Hon. Jerry E. Smith, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

University of Virginia School of Law
Charlottesville, VA

Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission - Post-Argument SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 2-11-16 featuring Mark F. Hearne II
Mark F. Hearne February 11, 2016

On December 8, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. In 2012, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission redrew the map for the state legislative districts based on the results of the 2010 census. Wesley Harris and other individual voters sued the Commission and alleged that the newly redrawn districts were underpopulated in Democratic-leaning districts and over-populated in Republican-leaning ones, and that the Commission had, therefore, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Commission countered that the population deviations were the result of attempts to comply with the Voting Rights Act. A three-judge district court ruled in favor of the Commission.
  
There are two questions before the Supreme Court on appeal: (1) Whether the desire to gain partisan advantage for one political party justifies creating over-populated legislative districts that result in the devaluation of individual votes, violating the one-person, one-vote principle; and (2) whether the desire to obtain favorable preclearance review by the Justice Department permits the creation of legislative districts that deviate from the one-person, one-vote principle, and--even if creating unequal districts to obtain preclearance approval was once justified--whether this remains a legitimate justification after the Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

To discuss the case, we have Mark F. Hearne, II, who is Partner at Arent Fox LLP.