'Fisher v. University of Texas': A Refresher

Abigail Fisher (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Abigail Fisher (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the case surrounding a white plaintiff's challenge to the constitutionality of the diversity-based admissions policies of the University of Texas, is back in the news, with the Supreme Court decision coming any day. But it's been a while since it was argued way back in October 2012. Since then, there's been no shortage of commentary about the legal basis of the case, the plaintiff herself, the future of affirmative action and what it all says about our country's relationship with race and opportunity.


Need a refresher on all that as we await the ruling? Here's your shortcut to an informed reaction:

Who is Abigail Fisher, anyway? This Washington Post piece introduced Fisher and her allegations that she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin because she was white, and that the school's affirmative action policies resulted in the acceptance of African-American and Hispanic students with lesser credentials.


What's race got to do with Fisher's rejection? Not much: Making this argument in a piece for Pro Publica, Nikole Hannah-Jones pointed out that university officials claim in court filings that even if Fisher had received points for her race and every other personal-achievement factor, the letter she received in the mail still would have said no.

Racism wake-up call: The case represents a much-needed incentive to give some serious thought to this nation's unique legacy of racism and its continuing effects — yes, even in the 21st century — Gail Christopher, vice president for Program Strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, wrote in a piece for the Huffington Post. "Let's not miss the chance," she urged.

How about some class diversity? There's still "a broad overlap between race and class in our society," Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation told Business Insider. His argument: Fisher outcome aside, making colleges more economically diverse would make them more racially diverse, too.

Abigail Fisher and the legal strategy — a perfect match: Attorney Edward Blum operated as a matchmaker of sorts when he selected Fisher as the plaintiff in this case, Katherine Guthrie wrote in a blog post for MSNBC. "He wanted a white applicant whose test scores and GPA surpassed some of the criteria applied to nonwhite applicants. He also had some less concrete criteria; he wanted someone with patience, willing to wait out the long process of litigation, as well as someone he thought he could work with over a long period of time." Not only did Fisher have  the numbers Blum wanted, Guthrie wrote, but Blum had also known her family since before she was born.


An apology on behalf of a former "Abigail Fisher": "I want to apologize on behalf of my 18-year-old self who believed someone who checked the right race box took 'my seat' from me. I know now the playing field was not equal and could not be equal. The argument that 'the best way to solve discrimination by race is to not discriminate by race' is still racist," a Feministing contributor wrote in a piece reflecting what she said were the beliefs about privilege underlying the legal challenge.

Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root's staff writer and White House correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.


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