There have been few moments in our history when the nation so badly needed institutions to unify the country, overcome divisiveness, and dispel the unfounded “jealousies and prejudices” that our first president warned against. As George Washington wrote to Alexander Hamilton, bringing together the youth “from different parts of the United States” at a university would allow young people to learn there was no basis for “jealousies and prejudices which one part of the union had imbibed against another part.”
Yet if the Supreme Court decides to hear a case called Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin , colleges could be severely restricted in continuing to serve this unifying function.
A white student named Abigail Fisher has argued that she would have been admitted to the University of Texas if the school had refrained from considering race in its admissions decisions and that her constitutional rights have been harmed as a result. Lower courts decided against Fisher, ruling that the university’s efforts to assemble a racially diverse student body complied with the constitutional standards established in the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger , the Supreme Court’s definitive holding on affirmative action in U.S. education.
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