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Texas affirmative action case may hinge on Justice Kennedy  

2012-03-04 13:38:27|  分类: Overseas学校 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

  下载LOFTER 我的照片书  |

      From washingtonpose  PM ET, 02/23/2012   By Daniel de Vise

    The U.S. Supreme Court this week agreed to hear a case out of the University of Texas that challenges affirmative action(平权措施)in college admissions. The decision could bring an end to race-based admissions in higher education.

    Affirmative action in college admissions is on the Supreme Court docket(待判决的诉讼案件) again this year after a white student named Abigail Fisher challenged a University of Texas program meant to promote diversity(多样化) on UT campuses.

    Affirmative-action proponents, including many university leaders, are concerned that if the University of Texas loses, efforts to increase diversity in U.S. colleges will be severely undercut. Critics of affirmative action are thrilled that the issue is back in play after a 2003 Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit against the University of Michigan seemed to settle the issue, allowing colleges and universities leeway to consider a student’s race as one of many factors in admissions decisions.

    Minority enrollment in higher education has been on the rise, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, with Hispanic enrollment increasing the fastest. Whites made up 62 percent of the freshman class at four-year institutions in 2008, the report found, down from 83 percent in 1976. (That’s about the same as the percentage of whites in the larger population, although the percentage of minorities among young people is higher.) Nevertheless, the percentages of black and Hispanic young people enrolled in higher education are still lower than those of whites and Asians.

    Which way the Supreme Court goes on this case will most likely rest with Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the court, who has been a vociferous critic of racial quotas, but who has also published some fairly nuanced opinions on race in college admissions. Because Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from the case, there will only be eight justices voting.

    If Kennedy votes with the conservative wing of the court, the Texas program could be overturned, meaning many colleges and universities — both public and private — may have to overhaul how they make admissions decisions. If he joins the three remaining liberals, resulting in a tie, the lower-court decision — which upheld the Texas program — would stand. Or he could come down somewhere in the middle, joining the conservatives or liberals, but writing a separate opinion that will hold more weight due to his swing-vote status.

    That’s what happened in the last case involving race and schools in 2007, and lawyers for both sides will no doubt be poring over Kennedy’s past opinions as they plan oral arguments meant to sway him. Here’s a quick summary of what they will find:

    In a 1992 decision in a desegregation case out of Georgia, Freeman v. Pitts , Kennedy had the following to say about whether K-12 schools should strive for racial balance in student populations:

    “In one sense of the term,” he wrote, “vestiges of past segregation by state decree do remain in our society and in our schools. Past wrongs to the black race, wrongs committed by the State and in its name, are a stubborn fact of history. And stubborn facts of history linger and persist.” But, “racial balance is not to be achieved for its own sake,” he concluded.

    In the 2003 University of Michigan case, Grutter v. Bollinger , although he sided with the conservatives who wanted to strike down the school’s use of race in admissions, Kennedy wrote a separate opinion, distancing himself from their more hard-line views. A racial quota, he wrote, “can be the most divisive of all policies, containing within it the potential to destroy confidence in the Constitution and in the idea of equality.” Yet race might play a role as a “modest factor among many others.”

    Finally, in his opinion in desegregation(废除种族隔离) cases out of Louisville and Seattle in 2007, he came down in the middle on the question of whether the districts’ use of race to assign K-12 students was permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

    “That the school districts consider these plans to be necessary should remind us that our highest aspirations are yet unfulfilled,” he wrote. “But the solutions mandated by these school districts must themselves be lawful. To make race matter now so that it might not matter later may entrench the very prejudices we seek to overcome.”

    He added, however, that “diversity, depending on its meaning and definition, is a compelling educational goal a school district may pursue,” and criticized the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts, saying it implied “an all-too-unyielding insistence that race cannot be a factor in instances when, in my view, it may be taken into account.”

    At the University of Texas, officials insist — and the lower courts have agreed — that race was just one factor among many that were used to admit a small pool of students (under 10 percent). We’ll see if their program is one of the instances of schools using race in admissions that Kennedy deems permissible.

——————————————————————————

Supreme Court agrees to reconsider use of race in college admission decisions 

By Robert Barnes, Published: February 22

   

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will consider whether the time has come to eliminate affirmative action in college admissions, resurrecting in an election year questions about the role race should play in American life.

The court will hear a white student’s claims  that the University of Texas’s race-conscious admissions policy cost her a spot in the freshman class. A divided court only nine years ago said that universities were allowed to take race into account as one of many factors in considering applicants, when attempting to assemble a diverse student body.

Opponents of affirmative action hope that the current court, more conservative than the one that made the 2003 decision, will further constrain the use of race or eliminate it completely.

The affirmative action case adds to a remarkable convergence of controversial social issues on the court’s docket, even as the justices themselves take on a higher, election-year profile.

The court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , allowing unlimited corporate and union election spending, has roiled the world of political fundraising. Next month, the justices will hear six hours of oral arguments about President Obama’s health-care overhaul. After that, they will consider Arizona’s controversial attempts to crack down on illegal immigrants.

And it seems inevitable that the court will be drawn into partisan fighting over political redistricting as well as the question of same-sex marriage. The affirmative action case will be heard when the court’s new term begins in October, just as the nation turns to the presidential election.

Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, which is representing Abigail Noel Fisher, the student rejected by UT, said the case “presents the court with an opportunity to clarify the boundaries of race preferences in higher education or even reconsider whether race should be permitted at all under the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”

The Obama administration supported Texas in the lower courts and has advised colleges and universities that under the court’s 2003 decision, they may still make some race-based decisions to expand campus diversity.

UT President Bill Powers said that is the goal of the admissions policy. “We must have the flexibility to consider each applicant’s unique experiences and background so we can provide the best environment in which to educate and train the students who will be our nation’s future leaders,” he said in a statement.

Since 1978, the court has been closely divided on the use of racial preferences, but it reaffirmed its support for limited use in the 2003 case, Grutter v. Bollinger . Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote for the five-member majority upholding a University of Michigan Law School policy, saying it was legitimate to use race as a factor in a holistic evaluation of an applicant to create a “critical mass” of minority students.

“We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today,” she wrote.

But O’Connor has been replaced by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who in past decisions has disapproved of racial classifications by government. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the justice who most often sides with the court’s liberals on social issues, was a dissenter in the Grutter decision.

And one of the court’s liberals, Justice Elena Kagan, has recused herself from the Texas case, presumably because of her previous job as Obama’s solicitor general.

Although the 2003 decision allowed the limited use of race, many states — California, for instance — do not allow admissions officials to consider race in their decisions.

Texas has a unique system. It provides admission for Texas students in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Fisher, of Sugar Land, did not make that cut and was put into a pool of applicants in which race is considered along with other factors, such as community service, leadership qualities, test scores and work experience.

Fisher enrolled at Louisiana State University and is on track to graduate this spring.

Her attorney, Bert Rein, has argued that considering race is not necessary because UT’s race-neutral policy for the top 10 percent already brings in percentages of minority students “far beyond” the numbers at issue in Grutter.

But UT officials do not feel that is enough for a state in which — in the near future — there will be no majority race.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the Texas plan, but a number of high-profile conservative judges from the circuit loudly objected and urged the high court to consider the case.

The case is Fisher v. University of Texas.

In other action, the court ruled 6 to 3 Tuesday that inmates(囚犯) do not have to be read their Miranda rights before they are questioned about crimes unrelated to their incarceration(监禁).

The decision came in the case of a Michigan inmate who was in jail on a disorderly conduct conviction(判决). Law enforcement officials took Randall Lee Fields from his cell to a conference room and questioned him for about seven hours on another suspicion: that he had sexually assaulted a minor. He eventually confessed and then tried to keep that statement out of his subsequent trial, saying he had not been read his rights to remain silent or have an attorney present.

He was convicted and sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison.

The court majority said the circumstances of Fields’s questioning on the sexual abuse charges did not amount to the definition of law enforcement “custody” that requires Miranda’s warnings(即米兰达警告。补充:美国联邦最高法院首席法官兰奎斯特2000年说过,米兰达权利已经深深植根于警察的日常工作中,以致于它已成为我们民族文化的一部份。米兰达权利体现了宪法的一条原则,国会不能越权).

“Taking into account(考虑) all of the circumstances of the questioning — including the undisputed fact that [Fields] was told that he was free to end the questioning and to return to his cell — we hold that [Fields] was not in custody within the meaning of Miranda,” Alito wrote.

“Custody” in the Miranda setting is generally defined as when a reasonable person would think he could not end police questioning and leave. The court in recent years has been limiting the reach of the Miranda rule.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote for Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, said the court’s decision “dishonored” the Fifth Amendment protections that Miranda rules are supposed to protect.

“Today, for people already in prison, the court finds it adequate for the police to say: ‘You are free to terminate this interrogation(审讯、讯问) and return to your cell.’ ” Ginsburg wrote. “Such a statement is no substitute for(用…代替) one ensuring that an individual is aware of his rights.”

———————————————————

 美国最高法院审查教育平权案件

             法治周末13版    日期:2012-03-1 原作者:Robert Barnes   施王照 翻译

    专家分析,最终的裁决即使不完全禁止大学把学生的种族作为录取考察因素之一,至少也可能会限制这一考察因素的运用

    2月21日,美国联邦最高法院表示,将重新考虑以后大学招生中,是否要继续实行少数族裔优先政策。在美国大选即将来临之际,此项表态再次引发了人们对种族问题的诸多争议。

受种族歧视白人学生无缘心仪大学

    2008年,来自德克萨斯州糖城的高中生阿比盖尔·诺埃尔·费希尔把德州大学奥斯丁分校告上了法庭。她在诉状中称,虽然她的学业成绩比许多少数族裔学生要好,却因种族歧视被刷下。费希尔认为该校少数族裔入学优先政策侵害了宪法赋予她的平等权利。

    据称,德克萨斯州有一套独特的教育制度。对高中成绩排名10%以内的学生,德州大学保证优先录取。因费希尔没有达到上述标准,她必须和其他申请者竞争剩下不到20%的名额。其中种族背景与社区服务、领导才能、考试分数和工作经验一起被作为考察因素。

    费希尔的律师伯特·马勒认为,在德州大学所招成绩前10%学生中,少数族裔的比例已经远超2003年“密歇根大学案”裁决中所规定数量。因此,剩下20%名额的挑选没必要再考虑种族因素。但是德州大学官员却认为这个比例远远不够,他们希望在不远的将来,种族再也没有多数和少数之分。

    最终奥斯丁联邦地区法院判费希尔败诉,她也没有如愿进入德州大学,而是就读于路易斯安那大学并且即将在今年春季毕业。败诉后,她继续向美国第六巡回上诉法院申请上诉,但该院裁定维持2008年原判。

    尽管如此,多位来自第六巡回上诉法院且很有名望的保守派法官公开表示反对2008年的裁决,并呼吁最高法院重审此案。直到2月14日,美国最高法院同意审理费希尔的上诉。

    今年11月美国将要举行总统大选。最高法院大法官们将于今年10月听取费希尔案诉讼双方的意见。美国最高法院从10月的第一个星期到次年6月底之间开庭。法官在此期间每月用两个星期听取口头辩论(通常双方律师辩论时间限定为30分钟),然后休庭两个星期,召开秘密讨论会审理案件并写出他们的判决意见。每次审判由9位大法官以简单多数票的表决方法来判决。

    早前奥巴马政府已经表示,支持德克萨斯州大学的做法,并认为根据2003年最高法院的裁决,大学仍然可以在招生时,考虑申请人的族裔背景,以扩大学校学生背景多元化。

    但是近几年一系列的人事变动之后,美国联邦最高法院的组成趋向保守。接替奥康纳的大法官阿里托和自由派法官安东尼·肯尼迪曾在过去的判决中反对少数族裔享受优先入学待遇。而另一名法官埃伦娜·卡根已宣布退出此案审理,可能是因为她曾是奥巴马政府的律师。

    鉴于上述变化,专家分析,最终的裁决即使不完全禁止大学把学生的种族作为录取考察因素之一,至少也可能会限制这一考察因素的运用。

    毫无疑问,费希尔案的重审不仅会成为今秋美国大选时的话题,也将成为最高法院众多重要诉讼案中较为引人瞩目且极具争议的一例。

最高法院重审意味案件非同非常

    美国人常说,即使花掉最后一分钱也要把官司打到最高法院去。但其实,要最高法院同意重审案件是非常困难的。最高法院有权决定自己的议事议程表,选择想要重审的案件。据统计,2000年上诉到最高法院的案件有9000件,但法官裁决的不到100件。

    最高法院决定是否重审一个案件至关重要的因素,是案件对政府体制整体运行的重要性。只有当某一诉讼涉及到对公众有广泛影响的重要的联邦法律问题———比如什么类型的“平权措施”是允许的、个人是否有权利要求医生帮助其自杀或者在什么情况下女性可以堕胎———最高法院才会同意重审。

    最高法院也倾向于重审这样的案件:上诉法院之间的判决是相互矛盾的,通过裁决,最高法院确定维持哪个判决;或者是可能引发宪法性争议的案件,在这样的案件中地方法院给出一个最高法院不认可的解释。

    通常,如果有4名法官对于上诉的请求非常感兴趣,最高法院即可同意重审该案。案件被同意复审以后,双方都开始准备书面的辩护状,向法官和他们的法律书记员陈述法律意见,提供相关的判决先例以及事件发生的背景,以供研究并作出判决。

    还有一种特殊情况是,如果代表政府的总检察长请求最高法院重审下级法院的某项判决,法院一般都会照办。部分原因是因为如果没有总检察长批准,任何上诉法院不得受理代表政府的上诉。

优先少数族裔入学为实现学生“多元化”

    自1978年以来,美国联邦最高法院内部在种族偏好问题上一直存在分歧。2003年,两名申请被拒的白人学生对密歇根大学法学院提起诉讼,认为其招生政策违宪。该校规定招生名额的五分之一给那些来自少数族裔背景的学生。

    时任大法官桑德拉·迪·奥康纳宣布,以5比4通过最终裁决,允许大学为使学生成分“多元化”而在招生时适当考虑申请者的种族背景。密歇根大学法学院可以在学院招生时,实施他们的少数种族学生“绝对人数”的政策。这一政策不是非法的人数配额。

    奥康纳在判决书中写道:“我们预计,通过现在的努力进一步提高少数族裔学生的数量。那么25年后,少数族裔入学优先政策将不再必要。”

    “密歇根大学案”是对美国宪法中规定的非种族歧视条文最典型的挑战。此前,“平权措施”(Theaf-firmativeaction,指的是20世纪60年代以来,美国旨在增加历史上因种族而受歧视的少数群体在就业和入学中的比例而制定的一些法规和政策)的反对者认为,有关学校入学对少数种族优先政策违背了提倡各种族平等的宪法原则,构成了对美国白人的“种族歧视”。

    爱德华·布鲁姆是费希尔的代理人。他同时也是“公平代表运动”(theProjectonFairRepresentation,简称POFR)的发起人。该运动的使命是挑战政府在种族和民族问题上的决策偏好,为相关政治派别和个人提供无偿的法律援助。

    在接受媒体采访时,他说:“此案为最高法院提供了一个契机,向民众阐明在高等教育中是否应该存在种族歧视。这也给我们一个机会去思考到底‘多元化’意义何在,大学入学的‘平权措施’有可能因此终结。”

    德州大学校长比尔·鲍尔斯在一份公开声明中称:“我们的招生政策很灵活。目的就是通过比较每个申请人独特的经历和不同的背景,择优录取并因材施教从而培养出国家未来的领导人。而且费希尔也无从得知,如果她不是白人,就一定会被录取。”

学术界对学生“多元化”存在争议

    据悉,虽然2003年“密歇根大学案”裁决不禁止入学时适当考虑学生种族背景,但在美国许多州,比如加州,依旧不允许招生人员把种族背景当作入学评分标准。

    加州大学戴维斯分校的法学教授维克拉姆·阿玛尔接受媒体采访时称:“我们在整体上全面失败了,无论是本科生、研究生还是职场人士。如果不是因为‘平权措施’的终止,我们所录取的黑人学生大约会增加三分之一。”他表示,黑人学生的比例从本来应该占的5%至7%跌到了大约3%至4%。

    阿玛尔教授还举例说明了戴维斯分校法学院招生中面临的实际困难。比如,戴维斯分校法学院招收的新生不足200人,这些新生在第一年会被分成三个班。因为只有为数不多的几名黑人学生,他们可能会被分到同一个班里,以避免“制造孤立感”。最后,其他班可能就没有黑人学生。

    美国有色人种协进会法律顾问兼教育基金总裁约翰·培顿说,多项研究证明多元化学生群体具有价值。他说:“不同种族的学生共同学习,相互学习,这对教育的益处是毋庸置疑的。”

    但是《多元化———一个概念的创造》的作者,也是2003年“密歇根大学案”裁决的批评者,人类学家彼得·伍德则对种族多元化的教育价值理念提出质疑。

    “对于我和很多学者来说,真正有意义的多元化是课堂上思维的多元化。”他说,“对于经过仔细推敲、有充分依据、真正多样化的见解的追求才是最根本的,那跟民族和种族的多元化并没有什么必然的联系。”

美国教育部调查两名校歧视亚裔

    2月14日,美国教育部正针对哈佛大学和普林斯顿大学在本科招生时歧视亚裔的投诉展开调查。教育部发言人说,他们的民权办公室正在调查去年8月收到的一份投诉,称哈佛大学在秋季招生时根据种族和来源国籍拒绝了一名亚裔候选人。教育部还同时接到一份针对普林斯顿大学的类似投诉,但不予公开投诉人的姓名。

    据彭博通讯社报道,两份投诉都涉及同一个申请人,该学生是加州某高中的优等生,印度裔。哈佛大学发言人杰夫·尼尔说,哈佛“没有歧视亚裔申请人”,并且表示不会对正在被联邦调查的投诉案作出评论。根据哈佛大学网站显示,2010年至2011学年哈佛本科生中亚裔比例从2005年至2006学年的18%降至16%。

    尼尔说:“我们对每一个申请人的材料进行审查时都是单独、全面的,因为我们对所有信息、候选人可能为我们充满活力的教育环境和社区做出贡献的各种方式都做认真考虑。”教育部人权办公室在1月11日致信哈佛大学收到投诉并将展开调查,但指出调查并不意味着有了定论,人权办公室只是一个中立的“事实寻找者”。

    普林斯顿也知道被投诉一事,并表示将配合政府提供任何信息。该校发言人马丁·穆古说他们没有针对申请人的种族或国家来源进行歧视:“我们录取的决定都是基于逐个考察,以建立一个成熟的、多元化的课堂。”

    普林斯顿今年本科生中的亚裔比例从2007年至2008年的14.1%提高到17.7%,穆古说该校课堂的组成是按照对申请人的个别评估而浮动的,未受到联邦审查的影响。

    教育部去年9月也收到来自加州印度裔学生对耶鲁大学歧视亚裔的投诉,但后来原告收回了指控。耶鲁大学发言人说他们不知道此事,并指出耶鲁本科生中15%是亚裔。


 

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