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‘Becky With the Bad Grades’ Loses Fight Against University of Texas Affirmative Action

SCOTUS Upholds Affirmative Action In Fisher V. University of Texas At Austin

When late SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia said:

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school, where they do well,”

many believed that the direction of the court on the matter of the constitutionality of applying affirmative action — “race-conscious admissions programs in use” to ensure and increase diversity in American universities — to university admission policy was close to certain.

Many suspected that SCOTUS would criminalize affirmative action measures.

Now, today, in what many are calling a surprising ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the lawfulness of affirmative action in the case of a white woman plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, who claimed that she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin law school because of her racial background.

Favoring the university in a 4-3 court vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy provided the necessary swing vote and joined fellow Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor to deliver the opinion of the court. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts dissented.

Prior to Thursday’s decision, Kennedy had spent his whole judicial career disapproving affirmative action policy. His siding with Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor has led some commentators to conclude that his opinion on affirmative action had “evolved.” It also accounts for the surprise outcome of the case, despite Scalia’s death and biting oral argument last December.

Writing the majority opinion for his colleagues, Kennedy stated,

“Though a college must continually reassess its need for race-conscious review, here that assessment appears to have been done with care, and a reasonable determination was made that the university had not yet attained its goals.”

Fisher, who filed her complaint almost a decade ago, argued that University of Texas’s admission policy favored less-qualified Black and Hispanic applicants and, in doing so, violated her constitutional rights under the constitution’s equal protection clause.

Missing from her three main arguments is any consideration of how affirmative action has positively impacted white women students and young adults.

According to Vox, white women have disproportionately benefited from affirmative action policies and, since 1995, have held majority of managerial jobs compared to Blacks, Latinxs and Asian Americans.

Not a trace of the studies and reports cited in Vox and other outlets can be found in Fisher’s argument.

Even acknowledging that today’s decision has not, and will not, end the intense debate and controversy surrounding affirmative action does absolutely nothing to dampen the moment.

In the illustrious words of clap-backers everywhere chiming in across the Twitterverse, #STAYMADABBY.


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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