'Fisher' may not mark end of affirmative action lawsuits

Lawsuits still in lower courts present greater challenge

The oral arguments on affirmative action at the U.S. Supreme Court this week likely will not be the last time the justices tackle the issue, Joan Biskupic writes for Reuters.  

On Wednesday, the justices will hear from both sides of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin for the second time. But newer cases still in federal district courts pose more of a challenge to affirmative action, Biskupic writes.

While the Fisher case challenges a state-specific admissions rule dealing with "critical mass," the other cases challenge Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, which first upheld affirmative action in college admissions and a 2003 case that reaffirmed the decision.

In November 2014, Students for Fair Admissions and unidentified Asian-American and white applicants turned down by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, respectively, were named as plaintiffs by the Project on Fair Representation, the same organization that led the Fisher's case.

These lawsuits argue the foundational Bakke decision itself was wrong and that taking race into account during admissions violates the constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

While the Fisher case ruling may not affect affirmative action outside the University of Texas at Austin, the rulings in these later cases would (Biskupic, Reuters, 12/6).

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