[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.uta.utaedu.jpg caption=" Two students say the admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin violated the federal civil rights law."]
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The White House is backing a race-based admissions policy at one public university.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to uphold the system at the University of Texas at Austin.
The case was brought by two white students who were rejected for admission at the Austin campus. 75 percent of students are admitted on academic grounds if they rank in the top 10% of their high school class... but the rest are admitted through a so-called "holistic" evaluation that takes factors like race or ethnic identity into account.
These white students say the admissions policy violated the federal civil rights law. So far, a district judge has rejected their claim... but it's possible this thing could wind up before the Supreme Court.
You see, this case actually tests a 2003 high court ruling that upheld a similar policy at the University of Michigan law school. At the time, the court said the school had a "compelling interest in attaining a diverse student body." It prohibited "outright racial balancing"... but said race could be a "plus" factor in order to build a "critical mass" of minority students.
But since then, the Supreme Court has become more conservative and critics of race-based admissions are hoping that the Texas case could be the way to change the policy.
For its part, the university insists its policy is critical in achieving the "diverse institution" its looking for.
Here’s my question to you: Are race-based admissions a good idea at public colleges and universities?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Jack in Niceville, Florida
Questions regarding an applicant's race or ethnic identity should be removed from all college application forms (and the census form, for that matter!). If you want to give the disadvantaged a leg up, then base it on income, not race. Believe it or not, there are poor white people and rich black people in this country!
Conor in Chicago
I guess the real question is: Would this college still have a decent amount of racial diversity if we only looked at the 75% admitted based on merit alone? If it had none or almost none, then I would argue that this raced-based system would be needed to combat racial discrimination anywhere in the U.S. If it was diverse, then I'd argue that the plaintiffs in this case have a valid point.
Absolutely NOT! If a kid works hard in school to be in the top 10 percent then they should be rewarded not punished because they were born with white skin. Skin color and ethnicity shouldn't even be a factor. These colleges should be more concerned with getting the best and brightest and uphold their requirements regardless of race, ethnicity or gender.
Steve in Virginia
"To build a 'critical mass' of minority students."? What?!?! White and Asian students don't need to have a critical mass built for them. They build it for themselves by accepting the education that's offered to them and working hard to learn. There's a 50% K-12 dropout rate among Black and Hispanic students. Minorities should be expected to build their own critical mass by addressing their dropout crisis.
John in Salem, Oregon
I am not a lawyer but I'll play one here: the Gutter case in Michigan dealt with law school not undergraduate admissions. I do not think the Supreme Court has ever ruled in favor of race being used at the undergraduate level. I would venture to guess Pres. Obama will lose this one, as he should.