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熱門: Armani 黑鳥 毛孩

再戰高教平權:美最高法院開庭 各界展開辯論

立報/本報訊 2012.10.17 00:00
策劃、編譯■李威撰美國最高法院近日重新開庭,許多重大議題引發民眾關心,10日首先登場的是平權法案議題:大學是否可將種族視為錄取依據?校園多樣性達到怎樣的程度才算足夠?是否有種族以外的替代辦法?這些都是法官做出裁決的首要考量問題。最高法院法官10日挑戰德州大學支持非裔美人及西語裔申請者的入學方案,這起案件將決定全國各地的大學如何採行平權措施。最高法院此次開庭期間,最受矚目的就是這起案件,這起訴訟的矛頭直指美國兩項重要特徵:種族與機會。美國種族結構因歲月而大幅改變,政府資料顯示,今年美國的少數族裔新生兒總數,首次占總新生兒人數一半以上。德州大學及其支持者認為,大學必須要有彈性,思考種族有助於確保多樣性。反對者則認為,是時候該廢除種族偏好政策,他們聲稱這是違憲的。法庭10日的口頭論辯,保守派法官要求代表德州大學的律師回答平權措施的目標為何,以及大學到底能否不再以種族作為招生入學的依據。部分自由派法官則建議,法庭不應推翻先前的判決。法官索托瑪約總結法庭所面臨的核心議題:「我們何時能停止順從大學認為種族仍是必要的判斷?」她問道。「這是這起案件的底線。」比例多少才算多元?這起案件涉及白人學生費雪,她在2008年被拒就讀德州大學奧斯汀分校。費雪該年就提出控訴,指稱資格不如她的少數族群學生優先被錄取。她聲稱,學院以種族作為入學依據,違反美國憲法的平等保護條款。大學則回應,為讓低度代表的少數族群能達到「臨界點」,學校需要更靈活地去思考種族是達到這個目標的眾要素之一。大法官羅伯茲要求校方律師賈瑞回答,法官們要如何知道,德州大學何時才達到其所欲的多樣性目標:「何時我能知道,你們已經達到這個臨界點?」賈瑞回答,臨界點不是個確切數字,而是達到某個點,在這個點上,「非裔美人與西語裔不再感覺自己是他們種族的發言人」。他說,屆時大學將停止種族入學政策。但費雪的律師雷恩,覆述大法官關心的重點:「終點在哪裡?如果你沒有可以衡量計畫成效的東西……就沒有司法監督可言。」自由派法官金斯柏格、索托瑪約與布雷爾的提問,意味著他們對該計畫的支持。布雷爾質問雷恩,為何法庭應該要撤回過去准許平權措施的判決。布雷爾問雷恩,為何法庭要推翻判例,該判例包含「許多的思想及努力在裡面」、該判例「在全國各地有這麼多人都倚賴著它」。聽證會的整體氛圍顯示,法庭也許不會支持德州的方案,但大多數法官似乎也不打算全盤推翻種族入學方案。大法官當中,最抗拒德州這項方案的是羅勃茲、阿利托與史卡利亞。儘管大法官湯瑪斯沒有提問,但根據他過去有關平權措施的著述,預料會站在保守派這邊。大法官甘迺迪的立場也許具有決定性,他對德州的計畫表示一定程度的關注,但他的提問沒有跡象顯示,他已做好準備要限縮這項全國都在實施的政策。■呼籲校園多樣化的學生,10日聚集在華盛頓的最高法院外圍抗議。(圖文/路透)這起訴訟的9年前,最高法院曾以些微差距,就密西根大學法學院入學政策,做出支持平權措施的決議。2003年法庭以5比4的票數,認為大學可在顧及其他眾多有助改善多樣性的因素同時,將申請者的種族給納入考量。43州的公立大學准許平權政策,數千所私立學院及大學,也依賴著「古魯特控訴包林格」一案的判決,將種族考量納入招生決策當中。德州的這起案件,吸引超過90個法庭之友(編按:非訴訟雙方的第三方,以協助法庭為目的,提供意見給法官者。)向法庭提供第三人意見,其中包括許多是學院組織、智庫及公共利益團體,大多數都支持德州大學。德州大學絕大部分的大一新鮮人,都是藉由《前百分之十》法案而進入就讀,只要高中畢業生的成績在全班前10%,就能自動被核准進入就讀。其餘的入學機會,則考慮申請人的種族,種族被當作是增進多樣性的眾多要素之一。費雪:入學政策對我不公費雪的主張以〈平等保護條款〉(即美國憲法第14條修正案)為基礎,認為大學只能在沒有其他方式能增進多樣性的時候,才可以將種族納入考量。費雪聲稱,《前百分之十》法案,足以增進種族多樣性。第五巡迴上訴法院基於2003年最高法院判決,曾駁回她的控訴。有些法官指出,由於德州考量申請者的種族,僅占全體學生的一小部分,德州的計畫很容易通過2003年案件所設下的標準。比起密西根的招生政策,金斯柏格形容德州大學採行的種族入學方案已經「較為溫和」。只有8名法官聽取口頭辯論,由歐巴馬提命、預計會替平權措施背書的大法官凱根並沒有參與這起案件。儘管她沒有說明自己為何要迴避這起案件,但理由跟她先前擔任檢查總長有關。在第五巡迴上訴法院上,凱根曾就費雪的案件提出第三方意見,因此這次她選擇迴避。若票數是4比4,下級法院支持德州大學的判決將獲得確認。而如果多數法官反對德州的計畫,那關鍵的問題在於,其判決結果會影響多廣?他們可以只反對德州大學的計畫,亦可裁定全國所有大學都不得再以種族作為選擇學生的依據。預估明年6月結束開庭期以前,最高法庭會做出決議。這起訴訟案名為費雪控訴德州大學,美國最高法院第11-345號。(路透)Supreme Court justices on Wednesday challenged a University of Texas admissions program that favors some African-American and Hispanic applicants in a case that could determine how universities use affirmative action (1) at campuses nationwide.The legal battle is the most closely watched case of the court's current term, striking at the heart of two defining American characteristics - race and opportunity. The country's racial makeup has also changed significantly over time, with racial and ethnic minorities making up more than half of the children born in the United States for the first time this year, according to government data.The legal battle is the most closely watched case of the court's current term, striking at the heart of two defining American characteristics - race and opportunity. The country's racial makeup has also changed significantly over time, with racial and ethnic minorities making up more than half of the children born in the United States for the first time this year, according to government data.The University of Texas and its supporters contend that universities must have the flexibility to consider race to ensure diversity (2). Opponents say it is time to eliminate racial preferences, which they say are unconstitutional.In Wednesday's arguments, members of the court's conservative wing pressed a lawyer for the university on the goals of affirmative action and whether universities would ever be able to stop using race in their admissions decisions. Some of the liberal justices suggested the court should not overturn its prior rulings.Justice Sonia Sotomayor summed up the central issue facing the court: "When do we stop deferring to the university's judgment that (considering) race is still necessary?" she asked. "That's the bottom line of this case."The case involves Abigail Fisher, a white student who was denied admission by the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Fisher sued the same year, claiming that racial minorities with worse credentials were accepted ahead of her. She argued that the school's use of race in admissions violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection. The university countered that it needed the flexibility to consider race as one of many factors to build a "critical mass" of underrepresented minorities.Chief Justice John Roberts pressed university lawyer Gregory Garre on how judges would know when UT had achieved its desired level of diversity: "When will I know that you've reached a critical mass?"Garre responded that critical mass (3) is not a certain number but rather a point where "African Americans and Hispanics do not feel like spokespersons for their race." At that moment the university would stop using race in admissions, he said.But Fisher's lawyer, Bert Rein, reiterated the Chief Justice's concern: "Where is the end point? If you have nothing to gauge the success of the program ... there is no judicial supervision."Questions from liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer implied support for the program. Breyer questioned Rein why the court should backtrack on past decisions that have allowed affirmative action.Breyer asked Rein why the court should overturn a precedent into which "so much thought and effort went" and which "so many people across the country have depended on."The overall tone of the hearing suggested that while the court might not uphold the Texas plan, there would not be a majority of justices to broadly strike down the use of race in admissions.The justices who appeared most resistant to the Texas plan were Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia. Justice Clarence Thomas, who asked no questions, would likely side with those conservatives based on his past writings on affirmative action.Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose position may be decisive, signaled some concerns with the Texas plan but did not indicate by his questions that he was ready to curtail such nationwide practices.The case arises nine years after the Supreme Court narrowly upheld affirmative action in a dispute over the University of Michigan Law School's admissions practices. By a 5-4 vote the court in 2003 said universities could consider an applicant's race alongside a host of other factors to improve diversity.Public universities in 43 states that allow affirmative action and thousands of private colleges and universities have relied on that decision, Grutter v. Bollinger, to include race in their admissions decisions.The Texas case has drawn more than 90 friend-of-the-court (4) briefs from scores of academic institutions, think tanks and public interest groups, most in support of Texas.The University of Texas fills most of its entering class of freshmen using a policy that grants automatic admission to in-state students in the top 10 percent of their high school class. For the remaining slots it considers an applicant's race as one of many factors to improve diversity.Fisher's claim rests on the legal argument that, under the Equal Protection Clause, universities can use race only if there is no other way to improve diversity. Fisher argues that the top 10 percent law is sufficient for boosting racial diversity.The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her challenge, based on the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling.Some of the justices suggested that because Texas considers an applicant's race for only part of its student body, the Texas program would easily pass the standard set forth in the 2003 case. Ginsburg described the University of Texas' use of race as "more modest" than the admissions policy in the Michigan case.Only eight justices heard the oral arguments. Justice Elena Kagan, an Obama appointee who would be expected to endorse affirmative action, did not participate. Although she did not specify why she recused (5) herself, she could well have worked on the case in her previous job as U.S. solicitor general.A 4-4 tie would affirm the lower court decision in favor of Texas. If a majority rejects the Texas program, the overriding question is how broadly it will rule. It could reject only the Texas program or rule that universities can no longer consider race in choosing their students.The court is expected to issue a decision before the term ends in June. The case is Fisher v. Texas, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-345.(Reuters)關鍵字詞1. affirmative action (n.) 平權政策2. diversity (n.) 多樣性3. critical mass (n.) 臨界質量、臨界點4. friend-of-the-court (n.) 法庭之友5. recuse (v.) 自請迴避

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