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Supreme Court takes up affirmative action

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People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court on October 10, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
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  Supreme Court takes up affirmative action People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court on October 10, 2012, in Washington, D.C. Thehigh court was scheduled to hear arguments on Fisher V. University of Texas at Austin, and aretasked with ruling on whether the university's consideration of race in admissions is constitutional.Getty Affirmative action is rarely discussed on the campaign trail, but it nevertheless is a matter of heateddebate in Washington this year.The Supreme Court today will hear an hour of arguments in the case of Fisher v. University of Texasat Austin, which asks the court to rule on whether the university's consideration of race inadmissions is constitutional. Abigail Fisher, a 22-year-old white woman who was rejected from UT Austin in 2008, has filed suit against the school, arguing its consideration of race doesn't meetstandards previously set by the high court. If the court rules against the university, it couldpotentially change the way schools across the nation talk about race.The response to Fisher's case proves that while affirmative action has been a matter of debate fordecades, it remains a potent one. Dozens of individuals and organizations have given their input tothe Supreme Court through amicus briefs -- 17 briefs filed to support Fisher and 73 in support of theuniversity.Republican Rep. Allen West, Ronald Reagan's attorney general Ed Meese and the libertarian CatoInstitute all signed onto briefs backing Fisher. On the other side, the court is hearing from the likesof Democratic Senate leaders Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, Teach for America and the AmericanPsychological Association. Dozens of organizations in favor of the school's system plan on holding arally outside of the Supreme Court today.Play VideoCBS This MorningSupreme Court takes up affirmative actionThe U.S. Supreme Court is taking on its most significant affirmative action case in years and theoutcome could affect student admissions at univ...The Supreme Court set a precedent for the use of affirmative action in college admissions in 2003,when in Grutter v. Bollinger it rejected the use of racial quotas but said that schools could consider  race as part of a holistic review of a student's application. In 2003, however, Justice Sandra DayO'Connor was the swing vote in favor of the holistic approach. This year, the court's balance istipped towards conservatives.In the arguments submitted to the court, Fisher's lawyers argue that UT Austin's admissions processfails to meet the standards set by Grutter. If the Supreme Court concludes that the university'ssystem does meet the standards set by Grutter, then Fisher's lawyers argue that the precedentshould be clarified or overruled.CUNY School of Law Prof. Ruthann Robson, who has followed Fisher at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, told CBSNews.com that overruling Grutter would be a drastic move, politically speaking. Bypicking apart UT Austin's system, however, the court could eviscerate Grutter without overrulingit, she said.If the court gave a critical ruling against UT Austin's system -- which already strives to consider raceas a part of the holistic picture -- other schools would be hard pressed to defend their ownconsideration of race. Abigail Fisher wants college admissions to be completely race neutral andrace blind, Robson explained.The University of Texas argues that a diverse student body is an indispensable part of training futureleaders with invaluable educational benefits. It argues that its admissions process meets thestandards the court set in Grutter and other cases. Â© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.http://www.cbsnews.com/news/supreme-court-takes-up-affirmative-action/
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