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)
Free Speech and Inclusion in Higher Education
Free Speech and Inclusion in Higher Education
Support students’ free speech amid political turmoil while cultivating an inclusive culture. Join student leaders and campus free speech champions in this discussion, supported by the Knight Foundation. Only an ACE Engage—Create your account!
Taking Action on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: What Works for Latino Students
Taking Action on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: What Works for Latino Students
Intentionally implement evidence-based programs and policies that increase Latino student success. This workshop addresses challenges and opportunities for an equitable approach to Latino student success. Only on ACE Engage—Create your account!
Taking Action on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: Faculty and Staff Diversity
Taking Action on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: Faculty and Staff Diversity
Join this two-part workshop to create an action plan to increase racial diversity in your faculty and administration. Learn about proven diversity strategies and data on compensation and career trajectories. Only on ACE Engage—Create your account!
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day
It has never been more important or appropriate to reflect on his legacy and honor his memory by working every day to ensure that the causes of equity, diversity, and inclusion overwhelm the dark forces of ignorance, racism, and violence.
Register Now for ACE Engage Workshop to Find New Ways to Support Latino Students
Register Now for ACE Engage Workshop to Find New Ways to Support Latino Students
A workshop for campus leaders taking place next month via ACE Engage® will feature experts explaining and examining evidence-based practices to address key challenges and opportunities for a more equitable approach to Latino student success.
Tools, Webinar Address Equity Concerns and Faculty Workload
Tools, Webinar Address Equity Concerns and Faculty Workload
Faculty leaders and academic administrators who want to reform faculty workloads with equity in mind will find new tools and research available from ACE and can also register for a corresponding webinar happening this week.
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the Injunction Halting President Trump’s Executive Order on Race and Sex Stereotyping
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the Injunction Halting President Trump’s Executive Order on Race and Sex Stereotyping
We applaud the decision by Judge Labson Freeman to issue a nationwide preliminary injunction halting enactment of President Trump’s “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” executive order as it pertains to requirements for federal contractors and grants.
Taking Action on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education Workshops
Taking Action on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education Workshops
Register now for ACE's expert-led Engage workshops designed for colleges and universities seeking to take action to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of their institution's workforce and student body. Only on ACE Engage—Create your account.
There's Still Time to Nominate or Apply for an ACE Leadership Award
There's Still Time to Nominate or Apply for an ACE Leadership Award
Recognize an outstanding institution or individual for leadership in the areas of diversity and the advancement of women with an ACE Award. Applications and nominations are now open for four of the awards to be presented online during ACE Awards Week.
Workshop Series Will Help Leaders Take Action to Improve Diversity of Faculty, Staff
Workshop Series Will Help Leaders Take Action to Improve Diversity of Faculty, Staff
College and university leaders interested in beginning, or accelerating, their path toward creating a more racially diverse workforce should sign up for a new ACE Engage workshop, the first in a series that will focus on strategies to increase diversity.
Key Takeaways from Race and Crisis at a Crossroads
Key Takeaways from Race and Crisis at a Crossroads
Following up on ACE's first virtual summit, this toolkit highlights some of the key takeaways from the summit and ways campuses can navigate DEI moving forward. Presented on ACE Engage—Create your account.
Continuing the Conversation on Race and Crisis at a Crossroads
Continuing the Conversation on Race and Crisis at a Crossroads
ACE has produced a series of videos and a key takeaways toolkit to build on the dialogue begun at ACE’s June 2020 virtual summit, “Race and Crisis at a Crossroads.”
“Race and Crisis at a Crossroads” – Interview with Adrianna Kezar
“Race and Crisis at a Crossroads” – Interview with Adrianna Kezar
As a follow-up to the 2020 Virtual Summit, “Race and Crisis at a Crossroads,” ACE’s Robin Matross Helms discusses key Summit takeaways and current racial issues on campuses with USC’s Adrianna Kezar. Presented on ACE Engage—Create your account.
“Race and Crisis at a Crossroads” – Interview with Kevin McDonald
“Race and Crisis at a Crossroads” – Interview with Kevin McDonald
ACE’s Gailda Pitre Davis interviews UVA’s Kevin McDonald to explore takeaways from the June 2020 Virtual Summit, “Race and Crisis at a Crossroads,” and the importance of what happens after a racial crisis. Presented on ACE Engage—Create your account.
"Race and Crisis at a Crossroads” – Interview with Sharon Fries-Britt
"Race and Crisis at a Crossroads” – Interview with Sharon Fries-Britt
ACE’s Ashley Gray speaks with Sharon Fries-Britt of the University of Maryland, College Park about the 2020 Virtual Summit, “Race and Crisis at a Crossroads,” and the ongoing need to focus on campus capacity. Presented on ACE Engage—Create your account.
ACE, Associations Send List of Priorities for Higher Education to President-elect Biden
ACE, Associations Send List of Priorities for Higher Education to President-elect Biden
It is expected the new administration will work to reverse a number of Trump-era executive orders, rules, and other policies that impact higher education.
ACE Releases Supplement to Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education Report
ACE Releases Supplement to Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education Report
This supplement delves deeper into students’ pre-college experiences, graduate and professional education, student loan debt, and postsecondary faculty and staff. It also seeks to address the lack of data available for Native students.
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on First Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in Harvard University Admissions Case
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on First Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in Harvard University Admissions Case
We are confident that if and when this case goes to the Supreme Court, the justices will continue to uphold the vital principle that student body diversity is a compelling governmental interest.
Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2020 Supplement Release
Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2020 Supplement Release
Learn about key findings from "Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2020 Supplement" and hear scholars and philanthropy leaders discuss how to study and work to close racial equity gaps in higher education.
Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education Project Hosts Webinar to Release Supplemental Report
Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education Project Hosts Webinar to Release Supplemental Report
New data will be presented in a soon-to-be-released 2020 supplement to ACE's Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: A Status Report.
ACE, Higher Ed Groups Submit Amicus Briefs Opposing New H-1B Visa Rules
ACE, Higher Ed Groups Submit Amicus Briefs Opposing New H-1B Visa Rules
ACE and 23 other higher education associations have filed briefs supporting a pair of legal challenges to new Trump administration rules restricting H-1B visas for highly skilled workers.
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