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Virginians on both sides praise ruling on admissions

Virginians on both sides praise ruling on admissions

Decision in admissions case lauded by ACLU, Scott, N.Va. nonprofit

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Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-3rd, and the ACLU of Virginia on Monday hailed a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said schools still may consider race in admissions as a factor to promote diversity.

But an Alexandria-based nonprofit that provided counsel to the woman who sued the University of Texas also praised the ruling, saying it puts in place high hurdles for colleges and universities and “begins the restoration of the original colorblind principles to our nation’s civil rights laws.”

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said the Supreme Court’s opinion “basically maintains the framework from the 2003 Grutter case that allows race to be considered in admissions as one factor among many to promote diversity.”

The Supreme Court remanded the case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, requiring that the University of Texas prove that its means to attain diversity are narrowly tailored and requiring closer judicial scrutiny of the university’s justifications, he said.

“It remains unclear how this ultimately will be resolved, but for now it seems that courts will analyze more closely universities’ admission policies and universities may need to supply clearer justifications,” Tobias said.

Scott called the decision “a victory for diversity in our institutions of higher learning.”

“In considering this case, the court had a prime opportunity to dismantle diversity-based admissions as we know it, but instead it sent the case back to the lower court to ascertain whether or not the process articulated in these cases has been adhered to faithfully.”

Claire G. Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said the organization is “encouraged that the court did not question the fundamental finding in both the Grutter decision and Justice Lewis Powell’s earlier opinion in the Bakke case — that public universities have a compelling interest in building diverse and inclusive student bodies to enhance the educational outcomes of all students.”

The Project on Fair Representation, a nonprofit legal foundation in Alexandria, provided counsel to Abigail Fisher, the woman who challenged the University of Texas.

“The Supreme Court has established exceptionally high hurdles for the University of Texas and other universities and colleges to overcome if they intend to continue using race preferences in their admissions policies,” said Edward Blum, the organization’s director.

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