Harvard Law professor and author Randall Kennedy will review the upcoming Supreme Court case on affirmative action, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, and its possible implications for college admissions programs in a lecture titled “The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action” on Monday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library, Smith Hall, at the College of the Holy Cross. The lecture, sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, is free and open to the public.
Fisher v. University of Texas, brought by undergraduate Abigail Fisher in 2008, asks that the court either declare the admissions policy of the University inconsistent with or entirely overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that race could play a limited role in the admissions policies of universities. Many observers believe the Supreme Court’s ruling will spell the end for affirmative action in college admissions practices.
Kennedy, the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard, focuses his research on the intersection of racial conflict and legal institutions in American life. His books include “Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency” (Pantheon 2011), “Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity and Adoption” (Pantheon Books 2003), and “Race, Crime, and the Law” (Pantheon 1997). He is currently writing a book on affirmative action.
As a follow-up to Kennedy’s talk, the McFarland Center will hold a fishbowl-style discussion of affirmative action at Holy Cross, and how a Supreme Court ruling could change life on campus, on Monday, Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library. Margaret Freije, associate dean; Kendy Hess, the Brake-Smith Assistant Professor in Social Philosophy and Ethics; and Thomas M. Landy, director of the McFarland Center, will be among the fishbowl’s featured participants.
The College of the Holy Cross, recently celebrated for its history of recruiting a diverse student body, filed an amicus brief in the case with seven other Catholic colleges and universities. The brief argues that the Supreme Court has long upheld academic freedom, and the institutions’ admissions policies should be protected by the First Amendment.
“Considering an applicant’s race or ethnicity as a factor (but not a defining one) in a holistic review of a student is more than a means of promoting diversity, it enables amici to more fully realize their missions of recognizing the dignity and uniqueness of each person during the admission process,” the brief states.