The Summer in Review

by: Christopher Ajizian

The University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review, as its name may suggest, seeks to promote and publish information about inequality, race and injustice in America. Since our blog went offline in May, several significant events occurred that concern race and social justice in America. As the kickoff blog post for the new school year, this article will briefly summarize a few cases and events that defined a tumultuous summer.

In June, the Supreme Court decided Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The majority decision granted a major victory for a woman’s right to choose, as the Court struck down a Texas law concerning abortion clinics.[1] The law at issue required physicians conducting abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and required abortion clinics to pass the same regulatory standards as ambulatory surgical centers.[2] The Court held that each of these components created a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s right to choose and thus imposed an undue burden on abortion access.[3] The case is significant because it reinforces a woman’s right to choose under the Constitution.

Additionally, the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin affirmed the use of race and socioeconomic status as factors in college admissions.[4] The University considered the race and socioeconomic status of its applicants as a means to promote diversity on campus.[5] The Court noted that although race and socioeconomic status were but a “factor of a factor of a factor” in the admissions process, these attributes could nonetheless have an impact as to who gets accepted or rejected.[6] That said, the Court sided with the University by holding that fostering a diverse learning environment on campus is a legitimate state interest and that the University’s admissions process employed appropriate means to effectuate its goal.[7]

While the Fisher decision is focused only on the University’s admissions plan, the majority opinion highlights a number of potential problems for Texas’s Top Ten Percent Plan. The Top Ten Percent Plan grants automatic admission to any Texas university to the top ten percent of every graduating high-school class.[8] Although the law was adopted with minorities in mind, the majority discusses how the law appears to be failing its purpose, perhaps foreshadowing a change from the Texas legislature.[9]

Outside the courthouse, police violence and gun control continued to dominate the American conscience. The shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, both of which occurred within two days of each other, sparked protests across the country.[10] At one such protest in Dallas, five police officers were killed in a shootout.[11] Another shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana claimed the lives of three officers.[12] Closer to home, forty-nine people were gunned down at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.[13]These tragic events prompt difficult yet recurrent questions about our nation’s gun control legislation, police violence and the treatment of minorities.

Over the course of this upcoming school year, stay tuned to the University of Miami Law Race & Social Justice Law Review blog for more in depth commentary on contemporary issues concerning race and social justice in America.

[1] Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S. Ct. 2292 (2016).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Fisher v. Univ. of Tex. at Austin, 136 S. Ct. 2198 (2016).

[5] Id. at 2210.

[6] Id. at 2207.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 2214.

[9] Id.

[10] Leah Donnella, Two Days, Two Deaths: The Police Shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, National Public Radio (Aug. 25, 2016, 9:00 PM),

[11] Manny Fernandez, et al., Five Dallas Officers Were Killed as Payback, Police Chief Says, New York Times (August 25, 2016, 9:00 PM),

[12] Julie Bloom, et al., Baton Rouge Shooting Jolts a nation on Edge, New York Times, (August 25, 2016, 9:00 PM),

[13] Ralph Ellis, et al., Orlando Shooting: 49 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance, CNN (August 25, 2016, 9:00 PM)

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