Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Affirmative Action)

Status: Argued on Dec. 9, 2015; Decided on June 23, 2016

In December, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a landmark challenge to affirmative action at Texas’ flagship public university. The University of Texas is required to admit all high school seniors who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Candidates for any remaining spots undergo a “holistic” evaluation process in which race is among the considered factors.

The Court has heard this case before. In 2013, the Court indeed issued a decision, but it sent the case back to the lower courts to be reviewed under a tougher constitutional standard.

On June 23, the Supreme Court affirmed, in a 4-3 decision from Justice Anthony Kennedy, a lower court ruling that allowed the University of Texas to use a race-conscious admissions policy under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

“The Court’s affirmance of the University’s admissions policy today does not necessarily mean the University may rely on that same policy without refinement. It is the University’s ongoing obligation to engage in constant deliberation and continued reflection regarding its admission policies,” Kennedy said.

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