Fordham has filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of a student challenging affirmative action policies at the University of Texas at Austin, a matter scheduled to go before the court next week. In the amicus brief filed in August, Fordham supports the University of Texas in its use of race in admissions decisions.
In September, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, made the University’s case for affirmative action and academic freedom in a post for the weekly Jesuit magazine America. In the post, Father McShane explains why Fordham backs the University of Texas in its case versus Abigail Fisher, the college applicant who challenged affirmative action in admissions. Fordham was joined in the brief by Boston College, DePaul, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Marquette, Notre Dame, and San Francisco. (Download the full brief here.)
In the post, Father McShane wrote that a holistic approach to admissions that considers many factors, including race, was necessary to create a diverse student body. But more importantly, he added, it is the University’s right to set its own admission criteria. Citing a 1957 opinion in Sweezy v. New Hampshire, in what Justice Felix Frankfurter called “the four essential freedoms of a university,” the school has a right to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.
“If the Supreme Court were to rule in Ms. Fisher’s favor and prohibit universities from looking to an applicant’s race as one factor in the admissions process,” wrote Father McShane, “how long before we are compelled to mute unpopular points of view, or before we begin to use political litmus tests to determine who should and should not be allowed to teach at a university?”
Arguments are set to go before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012.