By Adam Liptak of the New York Times

Abigail Fisher is a slight young woman with strawberry blond hair, a smile that needs little prompting, a determined manner and a good academic record.

Admissions Case SCOTUS

Abigail Fisher, 22, at the Supreme Court last month. “I probably would have gotten a better job offer had I gone to U.T.,” Ms. Fisher said. Photo: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

She played soccer in high school, and she is an accomplished cellist. But the university she had her heart set on, the one her father and sister had attended, rejected her. “I was devastated,” she said.

Ms. Fisher, 22, who is white and recently graduated from Louisiana State University, says that her race was held against her, and the Supreme Court is to hear her case on Wednesday, bringing new attention to the combustible issue of the constitutionality of racial preferences in admissions decisions by public universities….

The university said Ms. Fisher would not have been admitted even if race had played no role in the process, and it questioned whether she has suffered the sort of injury that gives her standing to sue. But the university’s larger defense is that it must be free to assemble a varied student body as part of its academic and societal mission. The Supreme Court endorsed that view by a 5-to-4 vote in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger….

The majority opinion in the Grutter case, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, rejected the use of racial quotas in admissions decisions but said that race could be used as one factor among many, as part of a “holistic review.” Justice O’Connor retired in 2006, and her replacement by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. may open the way for a ruling cutting back on such race-conscious admissions policies, or eliminating them….

The majority opinion in the Grutter case, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, rejected the use of racial quotas in admissions decisions but said that race could be used as one factor among many, as part of a “holistic review.” Justice O’Connor retired in 2006, and her replacement by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. may open the way for a ruling cutting back on such race-conscious admissions policies, or eliminating them.

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