Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin: A Timeline and Resources

Background

NEW (June 23, 2016): The U.S. Supreme Court votes 4-3 to uphold the University of Texas at Austin's diversity in admissions policy. Read ACE President Molly Corbett Broad's statement on the decision here.


Fisher v. University of Texas (UT) at Austin is a lawsuit concerning UT's use of diversity in its admissions process. It has twice come to the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal. In its second ruling in 2016, the Supreme Court voted 4-3 to uphold the university's admissions policy.

On June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court voided the lower appellate court's ruling in favor of UT and remanded the case for further consideration, via a 7–1 decision, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting (Fisher I). The Supreme Court found that the lower court had not appropriately applied the standard of strict scrutiny articulated in Grutter, and in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), to its assessment of the UT admissions program. Fisher I took Grutter and Bakke as given, and did not directly revisit the constitutionality of using race as a factor in college admissions.

Applying the Supreme Court's 2013 decision, the Fifth Circuit once again found for UT in 2014. Fisher again appealed the Fifth Circuit's decision, and the Supreme Court again agreed to hear her appeal (Fisher II). The Supreme Court heard oral argument in Fisher II on Dec. 9, 2015, and on June 23, 2016, voted 4-3 to uphold UT's admissions policy. 

Resources

Race, Class, and College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape
This July 2015 report examines how legal challenges to race-conscious admissions are influencing contemporary admissions practices at selective colleges and universities around the country.

Bridging the Research to Practice Gap: Achieving Mission-Driven Diversity and Inclusion Goals (March 2016)
The College Board's Access & Diversity Collaborative 

Webinar on Possible Outcomes and Responses to Fisher II (March 2, 2016)
This webinar, entitled “Preparing for Fisher II on Your Campus: An Overview of Key Issues and Action Steps to Consider,” provides recommendations to help institutions prepare for the U.S. Supreme Court’s second decision in the Fisher case. The link above to the archived webinar requires email registration. (Hosted by ACE, the College Board’s Access & Diversity Collaborative and EducationCounsel.)

Preparing for Fisher II (February 2016)
The College Board's Access & Diversity Collaborative

Understanding Fisher v. the University of Texas (July 2013)
The College Board's Access & Diversity Collaborative

Preparing for the Fisher Decision: Are You Ready? (May 2013)
The College Board's Access & Diversity Collaborative

SCOTUSBlog on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Select Op-Eds & Editorials

High and Long-Term Stakes
Inside Higher Ed (Dec. 9, 2015)
What may be hanging in the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Fisher is the ability of colleges to ensure a racially diverse student body and, just as critically, to build a diverse faculty, argue ACE’s Peter McDonough and Lorelle L. Espinosa.

The Legal Future of Affirmative Action (Rod Smolla, president of Furman University)
Inside Higher Ed (June 27, 2013)

A Long, Slow Drift From Racial Justice (Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University)
The New York Times (June 24, 2013)

Affirmative Action Ruling a Victory for Future (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
USA Today (June 24, 2013)

Judicial Minimalism Triumphs in Affirmative Action Case (Cass R. Sunstein, professor at Harvard Law School)
Bloomberg (June 24, 2013)

Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger​ (2003)
New Report Explores How Different Types of Leaders Practice Shared Equity Leadership
New Report Explores How Different Types of Leaders Practice Shared Equity Leadership
The Shared Equity Leadership (SEL) model aims to include a variety of people on college and university campuses in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
ACE, Higher Ed Groups: Pass Legislation Now to Protect Dreamers
ACE, Higher Ed Groups: Pass Legislation Now to Protect Dreamers
ACE and over 60 other higher education associations sent a letter Nov. 17 to House and Senate leaders urging them to make protecting Dreamers and the DACA program a priority, given recent court decisions declaring DACA illegal.
Preventing Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Learning Circles
Preventing Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Learning Circles
Join a Preventing Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Learning Circle, beginning in November. Be part of a group striving to use data-driven practices and policies to prevent harassment on campus before it ever occurs.
Supreme Court Hears Race in College Admissions Cases
Supreme Court Hears Race in College Admissions Cases
The Supreme Court heard nearly five hours of oral arguments Oct. 31 in cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard and UNC seeking to overturn some four decades of precedent allowing the consideration of race in college admissions.
BONUS: Prepping for a Supreme Court Hearing Starts at Georgetown
BONUS: Prepping for a Supreme Court Hearing Starts at Georgetown
In this bonus episode, Jess Ellsworth drops by the podcast to talk about how attorneys prepare for an appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court. She also describes the significant public service role that the Moot Court Program at Georgetown.
What to Watch For in the Oct. 31 Supreme Court Hearing on Race in College Admissions
What to Watch For in the Oct. 31 Supreme Court Hearing on Race in College Admissions
Pace University President Marvin Krislov and ACE General Counsel Peter McDonough join host Jon Fansmith for a preview of the Oct. 31 Supreme Court oral arguments on race in college admissions.
What to Watch For in the Upcoming Supreme Court Hearing on Race in College Admissions
What to Watch For in the Upcoming Supreme Court Hearing on Race in College Admissions
ACE’s Jon Fansmith and Peter McDonough speak with Marvin Krislov, president of Pace University, as they preview and share what to watch for in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court cases on race and ethnicity in college admissions. (Recording available.)
Appeals Court Says DACA Is Illegal but Keeps Program Alive
Appeals Court Says DACA Is Illegal but Keeps Program Alive
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was not lawful but preserved the district court’s stay, which permits current enrollees to continue renewing their status.
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals DACA Ruling
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals DACA Ruling
We are dismayed that this ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals continues to force hundreds of thousands of outstanding young Dreamers to live in fear and uncertainty.
Rethinking Accountability in Shared Equity Leadership
Rethinking Accountability in Shared Equity Leadership
Hear insights from the recent report on accountability in shared equity leadership (SEL). Learn to rethink accountability with stakeholders, review challenges determining SEL accountability, and discover strategies to measure progress.
Intersectionality and Women of Color in Higher Education Leadership
Intersectionality and Women of Color in Higher Education Leadership
The fourth installment in the Women’s Leadership Speaker Series will explore how the intersection of sexism and racism impacts women of color in higher education. Be inspired by distinguished women leaders in this conversation.
Sharing Leadership for Equity Learning Circles
Sharing Leadership for Equity Learning Circles
If you are committed to individual and institutional transformation toward campus equity, join a learning circle. Access curated resources and build a powerful network with a diversity of experiences. New circles begin in September—register today!
Translating Equity-Minded Principles into Evaluation Reform
Translating Equity-Minded Principles into Evaluation Reform
Join us online September 21 and 29 for this two-part workshop to learn about using equity-minded principles and reforming faculty evaluation policies to enhance the recruitment, retention, and advancement of a diverse faculty.
Navigating Muddy Waters: Best Practices for Civil Online Discourse
Navigating Muddy Waters: Best Practices for Civil Online Discourse
Learn about strategies and best practices for civil discourse in virtual exchange settings, how to bring fractured groups together within a virtual third space, and more.
How Colleges Can (and Can’t) Support 2022 Campaign Activities on Campus and Help Students Vote
How Colleges Can (and Can’t) Support 2022 Campaign Activities on Campus and Help Students Vote
Despite the increasingly difficult voting processes in a number of states in the wake of the 2020 election, students are voting in numbers like never before.
Webinar Will Address Accountability in Shared Equity Leadership
Webinar Will Address Accountability in Shared Equity Leadership
Register for the “Rethinking Accountability in Shared Equity Leadership” webinar on Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. ET to hear from leading scholars and practitioners who will share insights from the report "Shared Responsibility Means Shared Accountability."
Final DACA Regulations Released by Biden Administration
Final DACA Regulations Released by Biden Administration
The Biden administration last week released the final version of regulations aiming to strengthen the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
College Leaders Express Concern About the Impact of Supreme Court Ruling Overturning Abortion Rights
College Leaders Express Concern About the Impact of Supreme Court Ruling Overturning Abortion Rights
A group of college presidents met with Vice President Kamala Harris Aug. 8 at the White House to discuss the consequences for colleges and students of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
Lehigh University’s Inaugural “Posse” of Students Graduates
Lehigh University’s Inaugural “Posse” of Students Graduates
Lehigh announced its partnership with Posse in 2017, linking it to an initiative to make the university more affordable for and inclusive of lower-income students. The first cohort, also known as Posse One Lehigh, arrived on campus in fall 2018.
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Importance of Supreme Court Continuing to Recognize the Legality and Value of Race-Conscious Admissions Policies
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Importance of Supreme Court Continuing to Recognize the Legality and Value of Race-Conscious Admissions Policies
The outcome of these cases will have a profound and direct impact on our nation’s colleges and universities, their students, and, ultimately, this country’s global competitiveness.
ACE Leads Nearly 40 Associations Urging the Supreme Court to Reaffirm the Legality and Value of Race-Conscious Admissions
ACE Leads Nearly 40 Associations Urging the Supreme Court to Reaffirm the Legality and Value of Race-Conscious Admissions
The associations are calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to reject calls for a so-called “race-neutral” regime made in lawsuits filed by the activist group Students for Fair Admissions challenging the admissions processes of Harvard and UNC.
Affirmative Action in Higher Education After Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger​
Affirmative Action in Higher Education After Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger​
A 2003 letter from then-ACE President David Ward on affirmative action in higher education after Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger​
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: University of Michigan Admissions Cases
Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: University of Michigan Admissions Cases
Amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan in the 2003 cases Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger.
Statement of Higher Education Associations on Affirmative Action Cases
Statement of Higher Education Associations on Affirmative Action Cases
The higher education community welcomes the United States Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, cases addressing race-conscious admissions at the University of Michigan.
 
 

Case Timeline

June 2016: U.S. Supreme Court Issues Ruling in Fisher v. UT-Austin

Supreme Court Upholds Use of Race-Conscious Admissions at U. of Texas
The Chronicle of Higher Education (June 23, 2016)

Supreme Court Upholds Consideration of Race
Inside Higher Ed (June 23, 2016)

December 2015: U.S. Supreme Court Rehears Fisher v. UT-Austin

Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court: In the Second Hearing of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
From ACE and 37 higher education associations (Oct. 30, 2015)

June 2015: U.S. Supreme Court Grants Second Review in Fisher

Supreme Court to Again Hear Challenge to UT's Admissions Rules The Texas Tribune (June 29, 2015)

November 2013: Fisher Returns to the Appeals Court

June 2013: The U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision in Fisher v. UT-Austin

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (June 24, 2013)
Full text of the opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court

Statement From U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

October 2012: The U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Fisher v. UT-Austin

Amicus Brief from ACE and the Higher Education Community to the U.S. Supreme Court in Support of the University of Texas (August 2012)

March 2010: Higher Education Groups Submit Brief to Appeals Court

Amicus Brief from ACE on Behalf of 14 Higher Education Associations to the Ffth Circuit Court of Appeals