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News Posted on February 28, 2012

Dean Johnson Comments on Supreme Court Affirmative Action Case for National Public Radio

Dean Kevin R. Johnson was interviewed on the National Public Radio program Tell Me More on the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court hearing of Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin, a case involving affirmative action programs in the University of Texas admissions process.

Arguments in the case are likely to focus on the Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which held that race may be one factor of many taken into account in law school admissions.  In Fisher, race was only one factor in a process that denied the plaintiff, a white woman, admission to the University of Texas, prompting her to sue in federal court. 

"I think the University of Texas in this case had a very detailed, multi-factored admissions process where race was one factor for some part of the admitted class, and the question is ultimately whether that's constitutional or not," said Dean Johnson.

While acknowledging the complexity of the affirmative action issue and the particular circumstances of the Fisher case, Dean Johnson said, "I think the Supreme Court in an important respect had it right in the Grutter decision in saying that at some level we should defer to the university in considering race in its admission process and in considering things like the importance of having a critical mass of minorities in the student body and in the classroom. It benefits the education of all students to have a diverse student body."

Kevin R. Johnson is Dean and Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o studies at UC Davis School of Law. He is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of immigration law and policy, refugee law, and civil rights.

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