Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

 Email  Share  Print

WEDNESDAY BUZZ: Supreme Court Will Hear University of Texas Diversity in Admissions Case

February 22, 2012

Fisher v. University of Texas will be on the Supreme Court docket this fall

The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday it will hear a case dealing with the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin (UT).

Fisher v. University of Texas is on appeal from the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a 2009 lower court ruling that UT did not infringe on the civil rights of two white students who were refused admission to that year’s freshman class.

At issue is whether the university’s admissions process violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, because in some cases admissions officers take race and ethnicity into consideration in making their decisions. The plaintiffs argue the admissions policies of the university, as applied, “discriminate…on the basis of their race in violation of their right to equal protection of the laws.”

Both lower court opinions noted that UT’s plan closely follows the admissions process approved by the Supreme Court in 2003 in the University of Michigan admissions case, Grutter v. Bollinger.

In the Grutter case, the Supreme Court upheld the policy that an individualized, holistic review of each candidate for admissions was appropriate, even if it included race, to achieve the compelling state interest of increasing diversity in the student body. Any review that incorporates race must do so on an individualized basis, without applying a point value or adhering to any sort of quota.

“We don't want to see the Grutter decision undermined if we can help it," ACE General Counsel Ada Meloy said in an interview with The Houston Chronicle yesterday. “We hope we will be able to continue to apply the institutional mission that includes diversity as one of the features that a school values.”

ACE filed an amicus brief in March 2010 to the Fifth Circuit in support of UT.

“We do focus on socioeconomic status and other factors, and they’re helpful, but without race-conscious admissions, I don’t think we could get the same results,” Stephen Farmer, vice provost at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told The New York Times. “I don’t think any school has ever found a way to remain as racially diverse as it already is in the absence of the practices outlined in the Grutter case.”

Multinational corporations have said that a diverse work force is important for their global competitiveness, and “graduates of our institutions need to be prepared to operate in a diverse world,” Meloy told Bloomberg News.

For more reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to take the case, see the following:

U.S. Supreme Court to Scrutinize UT Affirmative Action
The Texas Tribune (free reg. req.)

Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge to Race-Conscious Admissions
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Counting Justices
Inside Higher Ed

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Texas Affirmative Action Case
Diverse: Issues In Higher Education

How Supreme Court Ruling on Texas Could Reduce Affirmative Action Across US
The Christian Science Monitor

OPINION: Chasing an Illusion in College Admissions
The Austin American-Statesman (free reg. req.)

OPINION: Racial Preferences Redux
The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

Other ACE News

  • Institutional Capacity

    June 29, 2015

    Apply Now for ACE’s Institute for New Presidents

    New college and university leaders from all sectors of higher education can apply now for the 2015-16 ACE Institute for New Presidents, which is designed specifically for presidents in their first three years of service.

  • Supporting Student Veterans

    June 29, 2015

    Bob Woodruff Foundation Grant Extends Program to Train College Mental Health Counselors

    A grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation will allow ACE to extend an initiative that trains college and university mental health counselors on how to better address issues such as post-traumatic stress and suicide prevention in their work treating...

  • June 29, 2015

    Today's Headlines

    HEADLINES: Today's Top Higher Education News

    In this morning’s headlines, the U.S. Supreme Court has again agreed to hear a legal challenge to the race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin, first decided by the court in 2013. In other news, The Chronicle of Higher...

  • June 26, 2015

    Education Department Scales Back Plan to Rate Colleges

    The Department of Education (ED) announced yesterday that it has scaled back the planned Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) first announced by President Obama in August 2013.

  • Budget and Appropriations

    June 26, 2015

    Congress Moves Forward on Education Funding

    The House and Senate appropriations committees both passed their FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bills this week, and the results were somewhat mixed for higher education.


 Related Content