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Justice John Paul Stevens to Hear University of Texas Affirmative Action Case at Moot Court Finals April 24; Conversation with Linda Greenhouse ’78 MSL Follows

The question of whether the University of Texas at Austin’s use of race in undergraduate admissions is constitutional will be considered on Tuesday, April 24, when four students compete in the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals of the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals. Arguments begin at 2 p.m. in Yale Law School’s Levinson Auditorium; doors open at 1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the Honorable Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and the Honorable Judge Brett Kavanaugh ’90 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which comes before the Supreme Court next term. At issue is whether the University’s use of race in undergraduate admissions violates the Equal Protection Clause. The university uses a “Top Ten Percent” plan as its primary admissions program, which offers admission to any Texas resident who graduates in the top ten percent of his or her high school class. In 2008, students admitted under the Top Ten Percent program made up 81% of the freshman class. The remaining spots were filled by evaluating applications along different dimensions, such as quality of the personal essays, leadership experience, community service, and family status. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), the university added race to the personal achievement measures used to fill the rest of the class. Abigail Fisher was not eligible for admission under the Top Ten Percent plan and was not offered one of the remaining spots. She filed suit challenging the policies used to fill these remaining spots.

The questions presented are:

1) Whether this Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger permits the University of Texas at Austin to use race in undergraduate admissions decisions.

2) Whether this Court should overrule Grutter’s holding that promoting diversity can be a compelling interest under the Equal Protection Clause.

“We are very excited to see our four talented competitors argue such a high-profile case,” said Moot Court co-chair Wendy Zupac ’12. “It is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience to listen to arguments in front of such a distinguished panel, including a retired Supreme Court Justice and two of the most prominent appellate judges in the country.”

Pete Huffman ’12 and Kasdin E. Miller ’12 will argue for the petitioner, Abigail Fisher. Allyson Bennett ’13 and Connor S. Sullivan ’13 will represent the respondent, the University of Texas at Austin. The competitors’ briefs will be posted on the Moot Court website approximately one week before the date of the oral argument.

The Morris Tyler Moot Court competition takes place each semester at Yale Law School, culminating in the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize Finals in the fall and the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals in the spring. All second- and third-year law students are eligible to participate.

Justice Stevens will be the guest of the Yale Law & Policy Review later that evening for a conversation with Yale Law School lecturer and Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence Linda Greenhouse ’78 MSL. Greenhouse covered the Supreme Court for The New York Times for 30 years and currently writes a biweekly column for The Times on legal issues. The conversation will focus on Justice Stevens’ jurisprudence and experiences on the Court, as well as his recent memoir, Five Chiefs.

“The Yale Law & Policy Review is honored to host one of the nation’s most distinguished jurists,” said Russell Balikian '12 and Kasdin Miller '12, editors-in-chief of the Yale Law & Policy Review. “We are thrilled to publish Justice Stevens’ remarks in our upcoming issue, and we hope that the conversation will provide the audience and our readers with greater insight into his jurisprudence and formative experiences on the bench.”

The conversation between Justice Stevens and Linda Greenhouse will take place from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Levinson Auditorium and is open to invited guests and members of the Yale community, with preference given to Yale Law School community members.