U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Race-Conscious Admissions Program

By July 15, 2016 News No Comments

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a 4-3 decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin et al. upholding the race-conscious admissions program at the university, finding that the program is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause.

This case was brought by Abigail Fisher, a student denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, the university had an admissions policy in place through which it offered admission to any students graduating from a Texas high school in the top 10% of their class. According to the policy, “it then fill[ed] the remainder of its incoming freshman class…by combining an applicant’s ‘Academic Index’…with the applicant’s ‘Personal Achievement Index’.” A student’s ‘Personal Achievement Index’ was calculated by conducting a “holistic review containing numerous factors including race.”

Ms. Fisher, who was not in the top 10% of her class, argued that “the University’s consideration of race as part of its holistic-review process disadvantaged her and other Caucasian applicants, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”

The district court found in the university’s favor; and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the appellate court decision and remanded the case. On remand, the appellate court again found in favor of the University, leading to this appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

For questions regarding Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, please contact Vanessa Clohessy or Kaitlin Atlas.

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