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)
The DEI Evidence Imperative
The DEI Evidence Imperative
Equity gaps in higher education must be eliminated. This workshop of four two-hour sessions helps mid- and senior-level leaders translate diversity, equity, and inclusion data into action to benefit students and institutions.
ACE, AJC, Hillel, Collaborate on Summit to Combat Campus Antisemitism
ACE, AJC, Hillel, Collaborate on Summit to Combat Campus Antisemitism
Presidents and other campus leaders from more than 40 institutions came away from a two-day summit in New York City April 11-12 equipped with tools for combating campus antisemitism.
Colleges, High Schools Gear Up for College Signing Day
Colleges, High Schools Gear Up for College Signing Day
High schools, higher education institutions, and communities nationwide are preparing for College Signing Day, a series of events throughout May celebrating all students committed to pursuing an education past high school.
ACE, US-UK Fulbright Commission Announce Global Challenges Teaching Award Winners
ACE, US-UK Fulbright Commission Announce Global Challenges Teaching Award Winners
ACE, in partnership with The US-UK Fulbright Commission, is proud to announce the winners of the inaugural Global Challenges Teaching Awards (GCTA), part of a program aimed at increasing access to global learning for students across the Atlantic .
Achieving Gender Equity Learning Circles
Achieving Gender Equity Learning Circles
If you are committed to redesigning policies and creating a culture where women can thrive, join a learning circle. Identify, reimagine, and help others advance practices that address critical issues on campus.
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.
Hybrid Meeting of ACE Internationalization Lab Cohort 19 Sparks Conversation
Hybrid Meeting of ACE Internationalization Lab Cohort 19 Sparks Conversation
After a virtual kick-off meeting last fall, dozens of representatives of the 2021-23 ACE Internationalization Lab cohort gathered in Washington, DC, and online last week with ACE staff and lab advisors.
ACE Honors San Diego Community College’s Carlos O. Cortez With 2022 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award
ACE Honors San Diego Community College’s Carlos O. Cortez With 2022 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award
The award is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions and demonstrated sustained commitment to diversity in higher education.
Open Academic Inquiry and Vigorous Debate Are Core Values of Higher Education, Organizations Write
Open Academic Inquiry and Vigorous Debate Are Core Values of Higher Education, Organizations Write
ACE and more than 90 other higher education groups have released a statement on the importance of preserving free and open academic inquiry and debate on campus.
Structures for Enacting Shared Equity Leadership
Structures for Enacting Shared Equity Leadership
In this webinar on organizing for shared equity leadership, learn how campus context shapes the structure, best practices for decision-making around organizing, and handling issues of accountability. (Recording available.)
ACE/AIEA Internationalization Collaborative 2022
ACE/AIEA Internationalization Collaborative 2022
This year’s Internationalization Collaborative highlighted initiatives that participating thought leaders developed and implemented; explored successes and challenges; and examined tangible outcomes and next steps.
Make Equity Everyone’s Work: ACE, USC Report Helps Leaders Structure Shared Equity Leadership
Make Equity Everyone’s Work: ACE, USC Report Helps Leaders Structure Shared Equity Leadership
Sign up for March 2 Shared Equity Leadership Webinar and Learning Circles
Reimagining College Admissions Through an Equity Lens
Reimagining College Admissions Through an Equity Lens
NACAC's Angel Pérez and Terri Taylor of Lumina Foundation visit the podcast to talk about how broad-based, systemic change is the only path to true change in college admissions.
Learn More About Joining ACE's New Learning Circles
Learn More About Joining ACE's New Learning Circles
Learning circles are facilitated online groups of campus leaders collaboratively deepening their ability to create transformative change on campus. Learn more about the benefits of learning circles and how to participate.
Implementing What Works for Latino Students
Implementing 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.
Higher Ed in 2022: Unfinished Business and Election Year Politics
Higher Ed in 2022: Unfinished Business and Election Year Politics
ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle joins hosts Jon Fansmith and Sarah Spreitzer of the ACE government relations team to discuss what Congress still needs to finish from 2021.
Debates on Critical Race Theory, Academic Freedom Are Not Going Away
Debates on Critical Race Theory, Academic Freedom Are Not Going Away
Michelle Deutchman, executive director of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement returns to the podcast to talk about a range of issues related to critical race theory and academic freedom.
Pulse Point Survey Explores President’s Views of Enrollment Trends and Pell Grants
Pulse Point Survey Explores President’s Views of Enrollment Trends and Pell Grants
As the pandemic continues to create uncertainty within higher education and on campuses, ACE’s latest Pulse Point survey of college and university presidents looked at how they view the changing demographics of students enrolled at their institutions.
Shared Equity Leadership
Shared Equity Leadership
ACE’s work on shared equity leadership, developed in partnership with the Pullias Center for Higher Education at USC, describes the inclusive and collaborative leadership approaches needed to achieve equitable outcomes in higher education.
Register Now: Find What Works for Latino Students
Register Now: Find What Works for Latino Students
Campus leaders can now register for a new workshop that will examine evidence-based practices on how to intentionally implement and advance programs that increase Latino student success.
Legal Challenges Complicate Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors, Including Universities
Legal Challenges Complicate Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors, Including Universities
In the latest development on vaccine mandates, a federal district court in Georgia last week blocked President Biden’s mandate for millions of federal contractors’ employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
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