Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

 Email  Share  Print

UT at Austin's Consideration of Race in Admissions Ruled Legal by Appeals Court

July 16, 2014

Graduate in between columns

 

​A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) use of race as one of many factors in admissions decisions meets the standards set last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said that “to deny U.T. Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience” and fly in the face of previous Supreme Court rulings.

This latest ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin doesn’t mean the case is over; opponents of the consideration of race in admissions have vowed to appeal and try to take the case back to the Supreme Court.

The high court ruled last year on the UT case, saying that diversity on college campuses offers unique educational benefits to students and is a compelling government interest but also applying strict standards under which race and ethnicity could be considered. (To see ACE President Molly Corbett Broad’s statement on the Supreme Court ruling, click here.)

The justices remanded the case back to the Fifth Circuit, ordering those judges to consider whether UT’s admissions policies considered race and ethnicity as part of a holistic admissions review narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefits of diversity.

The appeals court’s majority opinion carefully reviewed UT’s race neutral efforts and concluded that “universities may use race as a part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity.”

ACE filed a brief in the Fifth Circuit case on behalf of 41 other higher education associations.

Ada Meloy, ACE’s general counsel, told Inside Higher Ed that she believes the appeals court decision follows the legal analysis that has allowed colleges to consider race in admissions.

"The Supreme Court’s earlier opinion did not close that door, and we hope it will remain open to allow consideration of race and ethnicity when properly carried out in support of an institution’s mission," she said.

Meloy added in The Chronicle of Higher Education that "institutions need to review this (appeals court ruling) carefully and think about how well they are documenting their efforts, so that they can stand up to any similar challenge."

For more, see these stories:

Appeals Panel Upholds Race in Admissions for University
The New York Times (July 15, 2014)

Appeals Court: Texas Can Use Race in Admissions
The Associated Press (July 15, 2014)

 

Other ACE News

  • July 2, 2015

    Today's Headlines

    HEADLINES: Today's Top Higher Education News

    In today’s headlines, the Los Angeles Times editorializes in favor of the U.S. Supreme Court affirming the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policy when the court rehears the Fisher case this fall. In other news, The Chronicle of Higher...

  • Institutional Capacity

    July 1, 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 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