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Supreme Court Decision Could Impact Affirmative Action in NC

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in Fisher vs. University of Texas in Austin, a case where the university's admissions policy, which includes race as a factor, is being challenged. (morguefile.com)
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in Fisher vs. University of Texas in Austin, a case where the university's admissions policy, which includes race as a factor, is being challenged. (morguefile.com)
June 23, 2016

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The future of affirmative action policies at North Carolina's universities could be determined by a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. As early as this week, the court is expected to rule on a case challenging the admission policy at the University of Texas in Austin (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin) which includes race as a factor in the admission of some of their students. Depending on how the eight justices rule, it could have an impact on the policy at the University of North Carolina, which also considers race in its admissions process.

Mark Dorosin, managing attorney at UNC Center for Civil Rights said it's important the high court preserve diversity.

"Diversity among the student body is a valuable and critical educational tool," he said. "It's a component of education that is particularly vital as our country grows more diverse."

A similar case challenging UNC's admissions policy is pending in the court system, but it was stayed pending the outcome of the Texas case. Because the court is evenly numbered, a deadlocked decision would let the ruling of a lower court, which ruled in favor of the affirmative action policy, stand.

Dorosin said without affirmative action policies in place, universities don't maintain their accessibility to everyone naturally.

"What we know is that in places that have eliminated any use of affirmative action, there has been significant segregation among higher education," he added. "Much fewer diverse admissions, much fewer diverse campuses."

California banned affirmative action in 1998 and, since then, Hispanic and black enrollment have decreased. A similar outcome was seen in Michigan, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC