Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 10:40 PM UTC

Quote of the day: Sotomayor explains the stakes

The Supreme Court re-examines the constitutionality of affirmative action

John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan

This artist rendering shows Chief Justice John Roberts, center, speaking at the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. From left are, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)  (Credit: AP)

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas today, the court’s first major affirmative action case about admission to public universities since 2003. The case was brought on by Abigail Fisher, a woman who was denied admission to The University of Texas at Austin in 2008, claiming that she was discriminated against on the basis of race.

Fisher’s case will force the Supreme Court to re-examine policies set forth in 2003–which allow for race to play a limited role in admission at public universities. If overturned, the case could end affirmative action admission policies at public universities.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor summed up the issue at the heart of the case: “At what point — when — do we stop deferring to the university’s judgment that race is still necessary?” she asked. “That’s the bottom line of this case.”