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Issue:  Abigail Fisher filed a lawsuit against U Texas arguing that she was denied admission to the school based on her race. Fisher claims she was turned down for being white, because otherwise her academic achievements qualified her for admission. The university claims that race is only one of the many factors considered during the admission process and Fisher’s race could not have been the sole reason for her application’s rejection.

Background: In 2003, Gratz v. Bolinger case, the high court has ruled affirmative action constitutional in the absence of a quota. The schools could consider the applicant’s race and ethnicity if they did not have a quota for the enrolling class.

Arguments: The decision will be made by 8 judges, since the 9th judge, Elena Kagan, was disqualified based on her participation in the brief filing on this case in 2010. Out of the 8 judges, 4 are against the affirmative action, and 3 are for leaving Justice Kennedy in the middle with the decisive voice. Kennedy stated that even though he realizes the importance of the affirmative action, he does not see the constitutionality of the affirmative action. Meanwhile, Justice Sotomayor claimed that with 12% African American population the admission rate of African Americans with the current affirmative action is only 6%. She stated that the number of African Americans accepted to the university increased only by 2% after the affirmative action’s enforcement in the university’s admission policy. Sotomayor bases her argument for the policy’s constitutionality on the fact that it allows equal opportunity to the applicants.

My reasoning: I believe affirmative action in the university admissions is unconstitutional because it considers otherwise discriminatory qualities. Race just like age should not be a variable in the admission process. Moreover, I think the application should be viewed with blocked names, because they are often descriptive of the applicant’s race and ethnicity. The admission’s essay is an opportunity for applicants to describe how he/she will contribute to the school’s diversity.

Case: Kiobel vs. Dutch Petroleum

Issue: Twelve Nigerians who were granted political asylum in the United States sued Shell Oil, based in Netherlands and U.K., for working together with the Nigerian government in torturing and killing of the protesting Nigerians. The protesters were responding to the Shell oil’s take over of their property without paying compensation to the owners. Esther Kiobel was one of the protestors; she was imprisoned and her husband was executed. The case is brought under the Alien Tort Statue, which has been over the past 30 years by victims of human-rights violations to sue their oppressors. Shell argues that such lawsuits cannot be discussed under the Alien Tort Statue. Shell claims that U.S. has no role to play in the case, because the events did not occur in the US and none of the participants were U.S. residents/citizens at the time.

Arguments: The Nigerian nationals who are now US residents argue that US is their adopted homeland and the suit should be considered in the US because US is one of  the countries’ that has signed the UN treaty banning violence and torture. Justice Breyer supports this viewpoint. Justices Scalia and Kennedy, wonder whether this means that any suit can be brought in front of any country’s high court. In 2004,Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain case, the court stated the purpose of the statute as follows. “For purposes of civil liability, the torture has become like the pirate and slave trader before him, an enemy of mankind.”

My reasoning: I think the case should be heard in the US, because United States has signed the UN treaty banning torture and violation. The US is highly regarded for its human-rights laws and it should send a message to the world that human-rights violations will not be tolerated. 

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