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Law Review Symposium Explores Affirmative Action

March 01, 2013

The University of San Francisco Law Review symposium “The Future of Affirmative Action after Fisher” gathered lawyers, law professors, nonprofit leaders and others on Feb. 22 to consider the role of affirmative action in society today.

Videos available on YoutubeFisher v. University of Texas is a case currently before the U.S. Supreme concerning the use of affirmative action in the admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin. The case asks the court to overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 case involving the University of Michigan in which the court ruled that race could play a role in admissions policies.

“Today we gather to discuss the United States Supreme Court’s pending decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, which has the potential to undo 60 years of progress to racial equality and 150 years of struggle to make the emancipation proclamation truly emancipating,” USF School of Law Dean Jeffrey Brand said.

The keynote speaker was Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who argued that affirmative action is critical to democracy.

“Social mobility, national security, global competitiveness, and the legitimacy of our democracy depend on the pathways of access to institutions of higher education being open” to students of color, Cantor said. “We are educating fewer and fewer of precisely the groups that are growing so fast. It is a perfect storm. We will be a nation in peril if we leave talent behind.”

Symposium panels explored the legal history of affirmative action leading up to Fisher and how affirmative action is used in contexts beyond higher education. The day concluded with a roundtable discussion of how universities and law schools may need to re-shape admissions policies with Dean Frank Wu of UC Hastings College of the Law and john a. powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, moderated by Brand.

For more information on the symposium, go to www.usfca.edu/law/lawreviewsymp.