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)
Taking History, Funding, and Current Challenges into Account When Discussing Race, Ethnicity, and Completion in Community Colleges
Taking History, Funding, and Current Challenges into Account When Discussing Race, Ethnicity, and Completion in Community Colleges
Learn about the history of our nation’s community colleges, the ways in which they serve students of color and low-income students, and how higher education can better support this crucial sector.
Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2020 Supplement Chapter 4
Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2020 Supplement Chapter 4
Explore the racial and ethnic differences in postsecondary career and technical education, including fields of study, where students enroll, and work certifications and licenses.
That’s a Wrap on ACE’s 2021 Online Annual Meeting
That’s a Wrap on ACE’s 2021 Online Annual Meeting
ACE2021 concluded March 24 after three successful days of speakers, discussions, and activities on a wide range of higher education topics, as well as roundtables and social events that allowed attendees to network with colleagues.
Centering Equity and Fostering Mental Health for Student Success Workshops
Centering Equity and Fostering Mental Health for Student Success Workshops
Institutional support for the mental health of students of color is essential to ensuring equity and student success. Gain tools to support the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color.
Equity Leadership Is Everyone’s Work, New ACE Paper Suggests
Equity Leadership Is Everyone’s Work, New ACE Paper Suggests
The report, and additional forthcoming papers from the study, offers details on a new way of approaching leadership: the Shared Equity Leadership (SEL) model.
House Passes the American Dream and Promise Act
House Passes the American Dream and Promise Act
The House of Representatives passed the latest version of the Dream Act, an effort to grant millions of young undocumented immigrants—many of whom are college students—legal status and place them on a pathway to citizenship.
Strengthening Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education
Strengthening Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education
Members of ACE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Community of Practice discuss ways that institutions can truly embrace DEI to create a safe, welcoming, and equitable campus community for all students. Only on ACE Engage—Create your account!
Five Questions to Ask About DEI and Campus Operations During COVID-19
Five Questions to Ask About DEI and Campus Operations During COVID-19
Here are five important questions discussed by members of ACE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Community of Practice to help institutions keep DEI at the center as they respond to the ongoing pandemic. Presented on ACE Engage—Create your account.
Fifty-Two Emerging Higher Education Leaders Named to ACE Fellows Program
Fifty-Two Emerging Higher Education Leaders Named to ACE Fellows Program
The 2021-22 class embodies the diversity of higher ed institutions by gender, race/ethnicity, institution type, and disciplinary background. It also contains a 2 to 1 ratio of women to men and nearly one-third represents underrepresented groups.
Diversity Equity and Inclusion Community of Practice
Diversity Equity and Inclusion Community of Practice
This Community of Practice formed a learning partnership to rise to the challenge of prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion as central components to how their institutions respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Campus Free Speech and Technology
Campus Free Speech and Technology
In this February 25 webinar, learn how you can safeguard free speech in digital forums while also encouraging inclusion and democratic deliberation. Generously supported by the Knight Foundation. Only on 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!
Nationally Prominent Scholar and Writer to Address ACE2021
Nationally Prominent Scholar and Writer to Address ACE2021
Kimberlé Crenshaw, a pioneering scholar and writer on issues such as Black feminist legal theory and race, racism, and the law, will address ACE2021, ACE’s online annual meeting set for March 22-24.
New ACE Report Outlines Strategies for Supporting International Students Throughout Lifecycle
New ACE Report Outlines Strategies for Supporting International Students Throughout Lifecycle
“Toward Greater Inclusion and Success: A New Compact for International Students" proposes key strategies and practical approaches for institutions to establish lifelong relationships with international students.
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!
ACE Selects Four Blockchain Innovation Challenge Winners to Expand Economic Opportunity to Underserved Learners
ACE Selects Four Blockchain Innovation Challenge Winners to Expand Economic Opportunity to Underserved Learners
The winners are collaborations involving K-12, higher education, technology providers, and public agencies that will pilot new applications of the nascent technology to facilitate more secure, streamlined sharing of learning records.
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!
ACE, Other Associations Ask Supreme Court to Reverse Federal Ruling on College Athletics, Antitrust Laws
ACE, Other Associations Ask Supreme Court to Reverse Federal Ruling on College Athletics, Antitrust Laws
An amicus brief was submitted by ACE and 10 other higher education associations supporting an appeal by the NCAA and 11 athletics conferences to the U.S. Supreme Court in NCAA v. Alston.
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the Department of Justice Dismissing Lawsuit Against Yale University
Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the Department of Justice Dismissing Lawsuit Against Yale University
ACE is optimistic that this sends a strong signal that the DOJ will continue to recognize the importance of allowing higher education institutions to follow the law of the land and consider race as one factor in a holistic admissions review.
Associations Urge Biden Administration to Consider Policies and Practices to Help International Students, Dreamers
Associations Urge Biden Administration to Consider Policies and Practices to Help International Students, Dreamers
ACE and other higher education organizations are looking at specific policies that can help the Biden-Harris administration restore the United States’ global standing in the world and prioritize reforming the nation’s immigration system.
Episode 35: A New Era for Higher Ed Under the Biden Administration
Episode 35: A New Era for Higher Ed Under the Biden Administration
The hosts take the full episode to discuss how President Biden’s actions in his first week in office will impact higher ed as well as how a slim majority for Democrats in the House and the Senate could impact legislation moving forward.
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