Economic Inequality

Fisher vs. University of Texas: Supreme Court Decision

Fisher  vs. University of Texas: Supreme Court Decision

United Methodist Women Priority:


Economic Inequality

Decision Summary:


A white woman sued the University of Texas (UT) claiming that she faced discrimination because the University used race as one of many factors in denying her admission in 2008.  The Supreme Court upheld the race-conscious admissions program saying that race as one among many factors for admission is constitutional.  The 4-3 ruling enables colleges and universities to use affirmative action policies in limited ways.  According to the University, back in 1998, before it could take race into consideration as a factor in admissions, UT had 199 African American enrollees in a class of 6,744 (3% of the incoming class). By 2008, under the race-conscious policy at issue, that number nearly doubled. For Hispanics, the numbers grew to 20% in 2008. Said Justice Kennedy who wrote the decision, “[I]t remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.” Eight states currently have banned the use of race in admissions policies altogether according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington.

United Methodist Women Policy:


The Charter for Racial Justice calls on us to address structural racism.  The ongoing issue of unequal access to institutions of higher education by communities of color reflects such structural racism.  This is an economic justice issue since poverty is often reflected by race, in segregated neighborhoods which produce segregated schools, under-funding to children of color, and unequal outcomes in terms of quality education.  This places children of color at a competitive disadvantage when applying to university, yet they are often judged only as individuals, not as people who have faced historic and systemic economic and racial inequality.  Our United Methodist Social Principles state that “historical and institutional racism provide support for white privilege, and white people, as a result of the color of their skin, are granted privileges and benefits that are unfairly denied persons of color…We assert the obligation of society and groups within society to implement compensatory programs that redress long-standing, systemic social deprivation of certain racial and ethnic groups…We support affirmative action as one method of addressing the inequalities and discriminatory practices within our Church and society.  (Book of Resolutions pp. 167-168, The Social Community.)  This is further elaborated in Affirmative Action (Book of Resolutions 2012, p. 449-53), which calls on United Methodists to “declare our support of efforts throughout the society to sustain and, where needed, strengthen affirmative action legislation and programs.”  In its resolution Pathways to Economic Justice, Affirmative Action is understood to be an important local path to economic justice (Book of Resolutions 2012 #4054, p. 562).

Take Action

Plan a United Methodist Women program based on the above policies of the United Methodist Church, creating space for bible study and discussion on this contentious issue.  Consider ways that your unit can speak out about affirmative action debates in your school system or in your state.  Wrestle with how this connects to our commitment to live the Charter for Racial Justice, and what concrete action you can take locally.  Re-read the Poverty Mission Study to explore racialized disparities in income and wealth in the United States.  Delve into United Methodist Women’s Economic Inequality web page and explore how structural racism is a central factor of economic inequality, and what policies have historically worked to address those inequalities.


Posted or updated: 6/30/2016 11:00:00 PM
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