The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision today in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (UT), ordering lower courts to take another look at the challenge to UT’s use of race and ethnicity in its admissions process. For the text of the decision, ACE’s amicus brief in the case and other resources, click here.
It will take time to analyze the ruling and its impact on the consideration of race and ethnicity as one factor among many in the admissions process. However, we are deeply gratified that the court agrees with the higher education community—diversity on our campuses offers unique educational benefits to students and is a compelling government interest.
The ruling is a complex one, but it does make clear that colleges and universities will have work to do. Moving forward, each institution will need to show that any process that considers race and ethnicity as part of a holistic admissions review is precisely tailored to meet the goal of achieving the educational benefits that flow from diversity. Please encourage your staff to register for our July 10 webinar (free for ACE members) for a detailed discussion of how you can work within the parameters laid out by the court to continue to provide the optimal learning environment for your students.
The court also announced decisions today in the two other cases we have been monitoring: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, which involved a professor who claimed the university retaliated against him after he complained that a supervisor discriminated against him, and Vance v. Ball State, which looked at who can be considered a “job supervisor” in a federal workplace discrimination lawsuit. We were delighted the court found in favor of the institution in both cases, and I will have more details on those rulings later in the week. In the meantime, you can read the text of the decisions here and here.
For more reaction to the Fisher case, see the following:
Statement from University of Texas
Another Round on Affirmative Action (Inside Higher Ed)
In Narrow Ruling, Supreme Court Vacates Decision That Upheld Race-Conscious Admissions (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Supreme Court Orders Lower Court to Reconsider Affirmative Action Case (The New York Times)
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE