Justices to re-examine use of race in college admissions
October 8th, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Justices to re-examine use of race in college admissions

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

"Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free" - from the Bible (John 8:32), inscribed on the facade of the the University of Texas at Austin Main Building ..."Equal Justice Under Law" - inscription above the U.S. Supreme Court Building

(CNN) - Heman Marion Sweatt and Abigail Noel Fisher both wanted to attend the University of Texas at Austin.

Both claimed their race was a primary reason for their rejection. Both filed civil rights lawsuits, and the Supreme Court ultimately agreed to hear their separate appeals - filed more than half a century apart.

Their cases share much in common - vexing questions of competition, fairness, and demographics - and what role government should play when promoting political and social diversity.

But it is the key difference between these plaintiffs - separated by three generations and a troubled road to "equality" - that now confronts the nation's highest court: Sweatt was black, Fisher is white.

Sweatt's 1950 case produced a landmark court ruling that set the stage for the eventual end of racial segregation in public facilities.

Fisher's case will be heard by the justices Wednesday. The question here could come down to whether a majority on the bench believes affirmative action has run its course - no longer necessary in a country that has come far to confront its racially divisive past, a country that has a president who is African-American.

"There's a good chance that affirmative action, at least in the case of education, is on the chopping block," said Thomas Goldstein, a Washington appellate attorney and SCOTUSblog.com editor.

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Filed under: Affirmative action • Policy • Practice • Supreme Court
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Maisy

    This is so unfair everyone should be able to have great educations and race doesnt determine that!

    October 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  2. Maisy

    Why should it matter what skin color you have? It should only depend on grades and and effort.

    October 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Maisy

      And everyone should be able to have a great education no matter what their race is!

      October 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • maleah

      it is not right for ppl to judge u on ur race cause not everybody knowledge is the same but everybody can get to that point but my point is do not judge pprople if here white, black, hispanic or mixed cause i bet there was a time u wanted to get into a good school but u was to black or white or even hispanic.Would u like it if u couldn't go to a school because of ur gender?

      October 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  3. Bailey123

    Who cares about what color skin you have? It should only matter what grades you get and your effort. Everyone should be able to have an opportunity to further education no matter what their race is.

    October 10, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  4. Meghan M

    This news story made me so angry this morning when I saw it on TV. This girl has no idea what it feels like to wake up every day in this country and be black. She has no idea what that comes with. She says that she went to the same high school as black students that got into her college of choice but that she did more activities and got better grades. I don't care. Affirmative action is important in this country because blacks and whites are not on equal footing. From her perspective, she thinks that they are the same, but racism in this country is systemic. My heart hurts for her and others who are still not educated on this. I hope that when she goes to college, she can take a class or two on race in America and realize just how misinformed she is.

    October 10, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  5. Shyler

    Race shouldn't mater if you get into a college or not. All that does mater is your hard work and grades but not your skin color! I would love to go to so many great colleges but would my race stop me. Last year for reflections our theme was Diversity is... and we learned not to judge. Yet ADULTS are the ones judging us by our race. Some one needs to call up Dr.Martin L. King Jr. again to explain race shouldn't mater!

    October 9, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  6. cameron

    Blacks will never be equal in this world, so you will always need aa. Just look at the unemployment numbers between a black college graduate and a white high school graduate.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  7. jade

    it shounet matter what coler skin you are. its like someone judging you buy what you wear; or what you do. i think it should matter what on the inside not outside

    October 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  8. Dorian

    Yes I think what they are doing is very wrong people should not be judged by the color of there skin.We all should have an equal education.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  9. jewel

    i think every one should get a fair chance of geting into college it shouldnt matter for what race you are every one should be treated equaly no matter what race they are

    October 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  10. Jaclyn

    I think that it shouldn't matter what a person looks like on the outside. Its what's on the inside that counts.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  11. Erik

    the college is judgeing the people by there cover how they look

    October 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  12. Rebecca

    Everyone deserves a fair chance of getting into something so important in their lives like college. If two kids have the same good grades, choose randomly.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Dorian

      Yes it is very wrong what they are doing in collages. I think people out of all colors and aces should be treated with respect.It does not make since that they only let black people in.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • chris

        one. you spelled colleges wrong.. you seem very educated..two you spelled races wrong.. and three you spelled sense wrong.. did you go to college? because I go to college. my last point.. they do not only let black people into the University of Texas.. they let all races attend as long as they meet the requirements which is only fair. Plus.. she decided to go to another college and got a degree from LSU a highly accredited and well renowned university. She needs to grow up and move on with her life. she has a degree so she should go use it.

        October 10, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  13. Rebecca

    It is not fair that colleges make decisions on who to accept based on race. Everyone deserves a fair chance especially with something as important as college.As someone who goes to a very diverse school, I can say it does not make a huge difference in the learning if the school is diverse.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  14. Lydia

    It's disciminating that only black and Mexicans are allowed to this school only. This girl has had her mind set for this college and they don't except her. Unbelievable... :(

    October 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • chris

      well excuse miss lydia. i have found your statement to be misleading. very misleading. i suggest you check out this link which will show you the racial percentage that attends the University of Texas.http://education-portal.com/articles/Texas_TX_Colleges_Universities_and_Career_Schools.html. this will definitely show you some insight. and plenty of people get rejected from their dream college. it's life. deal with it and move on. she attended and graduated from LSU. she has a degree so how about she grows up and uses it wisely and to her benefit. not trying to sue some school. unbelievable. anyone that sides with her is completely ignorant.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  15. Lydia

    It's not right saying how only black and Mexicans can get into the college. She's set her mind on this college and has made it clear.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  16. Estela

    I believe race should never matter when applying for a college. Everyone, no matter your race, deserves a fair shot at the college they want to go to. Discrimination happens all the time, but race should never be considered a factor for college.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  17. Moneeb

    Discrimination was a problem back in the day of Martin Luther King Jr., What is it to say that a small problem like using race in college admissions won't cause a big problem now.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  18. Kayla

    If America puts such an emphasis on equality for all, then involving race totally contradicts what we stand for as a nation.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  19. Emely

    Dear CNN Student News, I believe race should not factor in college admissions because,I am planning to be a proffesional doctor and I would totally disagree if race really matter to them. Another reason is because, what counts is how smart and great of a person you are not the color of your skin. That is why i feel that what really counts is who you really are not the color of your skin."It is not the outside of you that counts, it is the inside of you that counts".

    October 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  20. Alexis

    Everyone is created equally and should be treated in that way. Colleges using race as a factor aren't following that important rule.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • brandon

      no I don't think school's should juge wether a student could go to school by there race because there are many kids
      would like to go to college

      October 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  21. Quincy :)

    Dear CNN Student News, I think that race should not be a factor in college admission, because everyone should be judged by the quality of their work and GPA and not by the color of their skin. I am a 6th grader at GREGORY LINCOLN EDUCATION CENTER and I'm African-American. I plan on going to college to be a police officer and I don't want to be admitted or denied based on the color of my skin.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Alexis

      I strongly agree and I couldn't of stated the truth better!

      October 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  22. Zack

    I do not think that race should be a factor when applying for college.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  23. Nicki

    I think that they should let her in because colleges who specialize in white students let African Americans in so a college who specializes in African Americans should let in a white student.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  24. Zayn

    I don't think that someone's race should determine their chance into getting into the college they've dreamed of. Having someone of a different race won't change the learning process.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  25. Sumedh

    Also, there is no need in teaching a lesson to the whites for racism many years ago. That is one thing our country cannot afford right now with all this economy and Taliban mess.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  26. Sumedh

    By favoring blacks and Hispanics, I think that there is no improvement in diversity. Diversity does help make the educational process better, but reverse apartheid and discrimination is not helping one bit. I think that by allowing all races and not favoring any race, the college will flourish, and can be more successful.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  27. Audrey

    I think that race should not be a factor in college applications because, if it was a factor then that would would be a sort of discrimination which is what caused affirmative action in the first place leading to this problem. I think all ties to any sort of racism or discrimination should be cut. Racism was a huge problem and i don't think that the problem should be raised again.

    I know African Americans were treated unfairly and that was not right, But that was not in this decade and was not caused by Caucasians in this decade or even the decade before this, African Americans went through racism and so much pain as a race and i think it all should stop. i know they might feel like they need to get revenge on Caucasians because of all the bad things they did to there race as a whole but that would not solve anything. I apologize for the racism and cruelty but I know That me especially as a Caucasian did not want this and i should have a fair advantage to get into college as well.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  28. Iyana

    I think that race should not be the reason to be accepted to college because I am a young African American girl and I don't want to be judged by my race, but by academic skills. Segregation is over , but I know there is still some in the world. All that matters is that everyone should get a education. Many people say they do not want any body in jail ,but they have no other things to do when they should be in school.If i was a person who gave a application , and did not get accepted I will file a report to the court.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  29. Meshake

    I believe that race shouldn't be a factor in college admissions because you'd then be judging a person by their skin color and not their intelligence which is what should be judged. In fact I don't think any form of appearance should be a factor in anything. I've noticed that blacks have been getting into colleges because they're black. I'm also an African American female, and I know I wouldn't want to be accepted to a college because I'm black. I'd want to be accepted because I meet the standards and have what it takes to attend. Everyone should just be accepted for who they are. Its awesome to be different, it'd be boring if we were all the same. Being different means you have a different background a different story to tell. Nobody is born and chooses what race or ethnicity they want. We're given what we're given and we need to embrace it not be embarrassed by it.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  30. Francisco

    I think that race shouldn't be a factor when colleges look at applications. Some people discriminate because back then it was all over the world.You couldn't do certain things because of the color of your skin.Yes they did make it illegal but some people can't let go of it.They probably were raised to think like that.You see it everywhere even though it was banned.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  31. Chelsea

    I believe that both parties are right because people have rejected alot of black people because of the stereo types that oh all black's are stupid all there good for is work and thats all there gonna be I think that people should start considering that maybe were all the same there trying to give us all a chance maybe there should be schools for minorities because if theres not any colleges like that there wont be any chances for us and the racist people out ther will take advantage of us

    October 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  32. Lauren

    I think that race should not be affected by choosing students because we can not change who we are and how we look. Segregation is over and there is alittle bite in colleges and they are judging young African American students by race

    October 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  33. Nicholas

    I'm in 6th Grade
    I think racism should not be a factor be cause they are also living beings. Living things have their own feelings and it hurts to not get in to your dream college or university because they don't accept you by race. Racism shouldn't be a factor because people make mistakes and they should learn from the past they should not discriminate in the present or future. it is a worthless amount of time to just start segregation or discriminate people just because of race or color.
    people fought for our country to stop segregation like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King , and Abraham Lincoln.I think the ignorant of racism is should stop just because of one point of view.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • chris

      alrite little man. your in the 6th grade.. congrats to you. how about you let adults do the talking? and you still have awhile before you decide to go to college.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  34. Olvin

    race sould not affect school because it makes parents sad and mad and the kids that are not accepted i know there is some racism going on even though it is illegal.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  35. jazmine

    i disagree that race shouldn't be a factor because what if black persons have good grades they need to go to collage because so they can have a good life and not live in streets

    October 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  36. Jaylen

    Race shouldn't be a factor if two people have the same credentials as one another. If one of the people is white, then that shouldn't matter. This doesn't mean black or Asian person should be accepted instead, they should all be accepted. As an Afro-American in 6th grade this is how I feel.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  37. Alberto

    Dear CNN Student News I am a student in Houston, Texas in Gregory Lincoln Education Center in the 6th grade I believe that race should not be involved when they should be allowed in the college/university because that's when stereo types begin they will say that they're race is too dumb or they're all criminals also if they don;t get to college or a university that will affect there job applications the will get less money for the're possibly family and that's why i believe race should not be a factor when deciding if they will go to that college or not.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  38. Gabby

    I think race shouldn't be a factor because many people would like to have an education ,but because they are of a minor race the college won't accept them. Every person should be allowed to go to college, race is something your born with and you can't change it. Many people right now are struggling to go to college but they can't. Those people just want to have a bright future and going to college will help them achieve that goal.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  39. Traneece

    i think that should be a factor because collages think that white people have always have a chance at education than a Blacks and Hispanic. For ex. there are a white girl and a black girl that had a the same application. Who do you think that they picked? the black girl because they think that the white girl had a lot of chances at an education.they think that the black girl didn't had a lot of chances at an education. That why they pick her. I am a 6 grader.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  40. Cortland

    Dear CNN Student News,
    I am a 6th grade student at Gregory Lincoln Middle School, i'm a Pre-Ap student which means i'm very intelligent. I think that race should not be a FACTOR of not getting in to college because discrimination is all over the place & even in our faces. Little things like this should not determine why not a person of any race should NOT join and also because we need to be learning and not trying to fight for what we want and need in life.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  41. Olvin

    DEAR CNN: i belive every kid or young adult should be able to go college because it doesent really matter about their race. what matters is that every single kid should have a education to have a career because i know that almost every single kid should want to have a and a family.on some colleges you have to pay to go there but some people just don't have the money to pay, i am a hispanic 6thgrade student in gregory lincoln and i hope i get accepted in college and that the race would not matter.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  42. Mercedez

    I think race should not be a factor.If a white person is let down for trying to apply to a good college and a black person is chosen to the same college as the white person it would no

    October 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  43. Jaylen

    Race shouldn't be a factor if two people have the same credentails as one another and one of people is white the black or Asian person shouldn't be excepted.As an Afro-American in 6th grade this is how I feel.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  44. Christine

    I do not think that race should be a factor when people are applying into college, because race is not something we choose. Race is our heritage, what our ancestors were born with. If I am applying to a college and I'm white, and someone else is applying and they're black, why should they be accepted and not me? If anything they should accept both of us. Sure they didn't have as many opportunities but maybe I didn't either. They should accept all people, no matter what race.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  45. jennifer mendoza

    i strongly disagree that race shouldn't be a factor because if black or Hispanics have grades that are high they wont have an education , so race shouldn't be important but the grades should :)

    October 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  46. Tytianah

    I strongly disagree that race should not be a factor because chocolate chip cookies go with milk and whites don't go with blacks,so that don't make no sense.White girls go out with black boys and white boys go out with black girls.It doesn't make a different between that.Also the colors black and white go together because I wear it at Church all the time. Sorry all whites but stop being so snooty.Blacks too! I might be black but I am not snooty or racist.All you lacks and whites stop being racist.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • kassandra

      hahah but thats true :P

      October 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  47. Tysha Davis

    I think that race should not be considered in colleges because,it is not fair to other people. The reason i say that is because,if i a black female apply to a college and they let me down because of my color that would not be fair.If race was a factor for colleges and they let blacks down then that would give whites a better education than blacks.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  48. roy

    I think race should be a factor, because some minorites have a harder time getting into colleges than caucasian people.and that is not fair

    October 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  49. roy

    I think race should be a factor, because some minorites have a harder time getting into colleges than caucasian people.and that is not fair!!!! :(

    October 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  50. kassandra

    I strongly disagree that race shouldn't be a factor because what if a black person has really good grades and you don't allow him or her to go to college and that is one more person not getting an education and maybe even living in the streets or possibly getting to be a bad person.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  51. Sean

    Dear CNN Student News,
    I believe that it is very unfair to the girl that got declined into the University of Texas was declined because of her race. I think that everyone should have a chance to get into the college. I think that people should be chosen to be in the school by how good their application. What the University of Texas is doing is just wrong and I think that it should be stopped or she should be accepted into the college based on her application not on race. Race should not be the top thing on your head when you are accepting people into your college you should be looking at what their grades are and what kinds of things are on her application. I hope that the university rethinks their decision and apologizes to that girl for turning her down for her race.
    -Sean

    October 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  52. Alex

    All people should be allowed into college at the same cost. Not charging everyone the same and letting in more of a certain group of people just because of traits like skin color, gender, etc. is wrong. Frankly, that's evil. It disgusts me that people discriminate against people like that.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  53. Richard

    It's bad to say our country is free when people don't get equal rights on education. There is something that needs to happen.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Ryan

      I am a 13 year old boy that goes to guilford middle school I watch u every day and u teach me things and tell me things that impress my parent my teacher mrs. Waters is impressed by you your jokes are really funny and they crack us up but sometimes ((bearly)) we reply haha so please say are names on the news we would gladly appreciate it thank you mr. Azuz

      October 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  54. Leonard

    I think that schools should be able to make efforts to enroll minorities but I do not think that this should restrict White people from receiving an education.

    October 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  55. justin

    I believe that everyone should have a chance at going to whatever collage they want, without needing to worry about the possibility of discrimination.

    October 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  56. coeby

    by being more likely to admit blacks or Mexicans into a college is not right its like how white people use to not let blacks do similar things. I think that all races should have an equal chance to get into any school they want to.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  57. Gregory

    I think that everyone agrees that colleges should be more diverse, but people should not be denied entry because they don’t contribute to the diversity.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  58. Colt

    I beleive that no place should choose one race to be accepted over another race. Our nation is promoting equality by saying that we need to ignore the color of people's skin. On the other hand, they are blindly promoting discrimination by making it easier for a minority race to be accepted over a non-minority race. We need to do as our nation says, not as it does and ignore the race!

    October 9, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  59. Jakob

    I think they should get people with the same thing but not about race

    October 9, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Richard

      CNN

      October 9, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  60. Samantha

    I dont think its right for the colleges to pick students by there race its not fair to the other students. All races should be treated equally and should be let into the school they wanted to be in.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Richard

      Hi how are you.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:31 am |
      • Samantha

        hi and i am good hope your doing goood

        October 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  61. Marcus

    I think everybody should be excepted to go to the college. I think everybody should be treaded eaqualy to each other.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Richard

      Hi

      October 9, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  62. mark

    I think that affirmative action is reverse discrimination and should not be an acceptable reason for admittance to an University. Schools should admit people based on their qualifications, not their race.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Richard

      Hi teacher.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Charanle

      I agree with Mark, he has a very good thought about this situation.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Marcus

      Hi how is it going

      October 9, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  63. Wyatt

    I believe that it should not matter what your race is to attend a certain college. I beleive that if a college is not allowing a certain race to attend their college they should change their prespective about how they look at people because everybody has the same rights to attend that school or college. I think that people should fight for what is right and take the school to the courts.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Richard

      Hello

      October 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  64. Richard

    I think that there should not be a race problem in college. Every person should be accept at a college. You are going to a college to learn. Every person should be equal to each othere when in comes to race.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Marcus

      i belive you budy

      October 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
      • Richard

        Yes, it is very wrong for college's to do that. That is very disrespectful. They should treat every person equaly.

        October 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • marcus

      ya i agree with richard everybody should be equal to each other even if they are balck or mexican or white they should be a college to accept everyone.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  65. Briana

    I believe that everybody should have an equal opportunity to further their education, and it shouldn't matter their race as long as your benefiting yourself

    October 9, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Charnale

      I think that everybody should be treated equally. Just because we have a different skin color doesn't mean that they are not people. Its not right that all races are not allowed into a single college. We all should be able to get into any college that we want to.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  66. Andre

    I think that race should not be a factor in college admission because it should not matter what race you are. Everyone deserves an education and we made it during the Civil War that everyone should be treated equal. No one should not be able to get and education just because of thier race.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  67. Valeria

    I think that race doesn't matter. Everyone should get the chance to go to the college that they've always dreamed of.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  68. Lilly

    Discrimination is pretty wrong but I do not suggest the college FAVORS Hispanic and African American races, I just think she misunderstood them.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  69. Kat

    Why shouldnt she be allowed in that university because of her race? if they are trying to make a diverse vibe to it, she should be able to get accepted.

    October 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  70. Andrew

    I believe this court case is unnecessary. When being accepted into a college or university, it is not race that matters but mainly test scores and other academic qualifications. Mixed racial colleges also create environments which will help students with their businesses or careers in the future.

    October 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  71. Andrew

    I believe this court case is unnecessary. When being accepted into a college or university, it is not race that matters but only test scores and other academic qualifications. Mixed racial colleges also creates an environment which will help student with their businesses or careers in the future.

    October 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  72. Joey

    I think the affirmative action is reverse discrimination

    October 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Kat

      Discrimination is all over the world, but its mainly because of little things like this that cause it. We are suppose to be learning for the future not fighting over it.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • Richard

        Yes very agree.

        October 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |