Sunday, April 19, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Texas university’s race admissions policy debated in federal court

By
From page A7 | November 15, 2013 |

By Manny Fernandez

AUSTIN, Texas — An affirmative-action program at the University of Texas at Austin that takes applicants’ race into account was unnecessary because the campus had achieved a “critical mass” of minority students, lawyers for the white applicant who sued the university told a federal appeals court here on Wednesday in a case with high stakes for the future of race-conscious admissions policies at public colleges and universities.

University lawyers denied a critical mass of underrepresented students had been reached. They said the institution was entitled to supplement its race-neutral admissions policies with ones that take race into account to achieve diversity. But the reaction of the appeals judges, who expressed skepticism at times about the manner in which the university applied race-conscious decisions and the university’s abstract definition of “critical mass,” illustrated the complex path for the Texas flagship university, as it tries to show that its admissions program was necessary.

Bert Rein, the lawyer for the white applicant, Abigail Fisher, said the university had no numerical standards to determine when its student body was sufficiently diverse. “They have no metric,” he said. “ ‘We know it when we see it.’ That’s the university’s position.”

The lawyers for Fisher, the university and minority student groups appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday to sort through a tangle of new legal issues raised by the Supreme Court in June. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit, instructing it to apply a greater degree of scrutiny to the university’s race-conscious admissions program.

The decision, while generally upholding the use of race as a factor in the program, jeopardized the future of it at the same time, by instructing courts to use tougher standards and to verify that race-neutral alternatives were not available to the university.

On Wednesday, the question of whether the university had any race-neutral alternatives available, and whether the campus had reached a so-called critical mass of minority students, was the focus of debate.

The Fifth Circuit judges, who appeared equally skeptical of some of the arguments made by Fisher’s lawyer, wondered aloud whether they should send the case back to a district court. They listened to arguments from all sides without making any rulings. A decision is not likely to come for weeks or months.

Lawyers for the university as well as those representing black and Hispanic students argued that there were no race-neutral alternatives available that would allow it to achieve the benefits of diversity.

Many black students, they argued, experienced racial isolation on campus between 1997 and 2004, when the university did not consider race in admissions. During that period, they said, African-Americans never made up more than 4.5 percent of any freshman class.

The case was filed by Fisher, who said that because she is white the University of Texas had denied her admission in 2008. The university said she would not have been admitted even without any policies focused on diversity. She has since graduated from Louisiana State University.

When the appeals court first heard Fisher’s case in 2011, it upheld the admissions program, saying it had been authorized by the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. That decision, by a 5-to-4 vote, said that public colleges and universities could not use point systems or quotas to increase minority enrollment but could take race into account in vaguer ways. But the Supreme Court was not satisfied with the Fifth Circuit’s analysis. In its 7-to-1 decision in June, it told the court to take a more skeptical look at the university’s admissions practices.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, reaffirmed that educational diversity is an interest sufficient to overcome the general ban on racial classifications by the government. But he added that public universities must have good reasons for the particular methods they use to achieve that goal. They must, he wrote, show that “available, workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice” before taking account of race in admissions decisions.

On the issue of critical mass, Gregory Garre, the university’s lawyer, described it to the judges as an abstract process that met Supreme Court standards, and was based on data on minority admissions as well as faculty observations. The Supreme Court has used the term to describe a university’s qualitative rather than quantitative assessment of whether it has achieved sufficient diversity.

William C. Powers Jr., the university’s president, expressed concern about the effect that losing the case would have. “It would be a setback to diversity, not just at the University of Texas, but at universities across the country,” he said after the hearing.

Comments

comments

New York Times News Service

.

News

Aggie Pride on parade at UC Davis Picnic Day

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
City wants a study of sewer rates

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Hard-of-hearing student needs community’s help

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
KDVS fund drive includes on-air pledging, plus parties and food

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Art helped sell California’s agriculture

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Sign up now for Celebrate Davis!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

Students, families can get after-hours Internet access

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Lawyers seek resolution to Davis molest case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

Garamendi hosts conference for women

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
‘Invaluable public servant’ retires after 20 years

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Your brain’s aging and a new report urges ways to stay sharp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Injury-proof yourself for effective exercise

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Understanding risks can help women prevent leading health threats

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Free gardening advice offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Grad Night tickets on sale online

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Schenker speaks about ‘Magical Mexico’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Yolo County DA honors crime victims at annual tribute

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Holman offers Publishing 101 seminar

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Radio-controlled airplanes will race April 25-26

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Vote with your dollars at Davis Food Co-op

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Woodland bike rides set every Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Get some advice at Connections Café

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Eyewitness speaks about Israel’s election

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Join the 10,000-vegetable challenge!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9Comments are off for this post

 
NAMI group offers family support

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Watershed Wonders activities return to Putah Creek

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Yolo County Neighborhood Court seeks new volunteers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Birding tour will benefit Putah Creek Council

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
UCD looks at building a better brain as we age

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

‘Vault’ highlights ‘Kathak’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Two drought-preparedness water bills pass out of Senate committees

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

Picnic Day favorites: dogs, bikes science

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
Strike up the band, and the bubbles!

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Forum

Ready for the parting glass

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
 
John Cole cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

Yolo Crisis Nursery still needs help

By Our View | From Page: B6

 
Drink up, kids, but make your choice a healthy one

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

Leash your dogs; it’s the law

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

 
Let’s not turn our backs on the Earth

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

This Earth Day, make a pledge to cool your home

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

 
Speak out

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B7

.

Sports

Fast Aggie start negated by 14-0 USC lacrosse run

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Stagnant second-half offense sinks Devil girls

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Over the hump? DHS baseball team wins late

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Lambdin, Marshall lead Aggies at Mt. SAC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Republic FC gets another win at Bonney

By Evan Ream | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies sweep a water polo double dip

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Busy Clancy, Hall spark Devil tracksters at Mt. SAC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Former DHS star Drexel returns to create havoc for Aggies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Pro baseball roundup: Oakland blanks Kansas City

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
Sports briefs: Blue Devils split a pair of tennis matches

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B14 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

WISH grant funds available to eligible homebuyers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

 
Marrone Bio Innovations strengthens its sales team

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

New phase opens at Brookfield Cottages

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

 
Tucos closes; new Japanese, pizza, subs debut

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

Jody Zewe

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Herman Timm

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Robert Leigh Cordrey

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Alice Catherine Micheltorena

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, April 19, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8