The state of Montana has taken a firm stand for racial justice by joining with 13 other states to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold racial preferences in college admissions.

The 14 states filed a brief supporting racial preferences in admissions in a case involving a white student who was not admitted to the University of Texas in 2008.

Abigail Fisher filed a lawsuit challenging the university's admissions policy as a violation of her rights because she says less qualified minority students were admitted.

The university's admissions policy is to admit all Texas high school students who finish in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. That makes up about 75 percent of the university's freshman class. The remainder, including both in-state and out-of-state students, are chosen on the basis of grades, test scores, work experience, leadership qualities and race.

The state contends that the percentage of racial minority students in the initial 75 percent is not large enough to adequately represent Texas's racial diversity. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit agreed and upheld the plan.

The Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold that ruling because the government has a vital interest in making sure the pool of college graduates is diverse. That is exactly how the Supreme Court ruled in 2003, the last time it considered an affirmative action challenge in college admissions.

Affirmative action is an essential tool to help even the playing field for minority students who face discrimination and roadblocks which have been in place since the time of slavery. These roadblocks are real and present continuing challenges for minority students.