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Professor David S. Cohen Discusses U.S. Supreme Court Affirmative Action Decision on WHYY Radio Times

June 25, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas left existing Supreme Court affirmative action precedent intact, Professor David S. Cohen told WHYY's Marty Moss-Coane on a June 25 airing of Radio Times.

The case involved a challenge to the University of Texas' affirmative action admissions program.  The program considers race among other factors when reviewing a candidate's application, Cohen said.  The plaintiff in the case claimed she was denied admission on the basis of her race, he added.

Cohen explained that court watchers anxiously awaited the decision, expecting the court to potentially reverse its long-standing affirmative action precedent in University of California v. Bakke, Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, the latter having been decided by recently retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. However, the court did not say much about affirmative action except to find that the lower court did properly apply the standards set forth in Bakke, Gratz and Grutter to the Fisher case, Cohen said.  Therefore, the state of the law on affirmative action remains untouched and public universities will likely continue relying on the standards outlined in Bakke, Gratz and Grutter, Cohen claimed.

Cohen expects affirmative action programs to be around for a very long time but doubts this will be the last time the Supreme Court will hear arguments on affirmative action admissions procedures.  In fact, we may find the court reviewing a case involving Michigan's statewide ban of affirmative action programs as early as the Supreme Court's first term next year, Cohen concluded. 

David S. Cohen’s scholarship explores constitutional law and gender issues in the law that range from sex discrimination to interactions between gender identity and social policy.