Minority students hoping to enroll at the predominately White University of Texas can breathe a sigh of relief. Today, in a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the school’s race-conscious admissions program, deeming it constitutional to take race into consideration as a factor of admission. The ruling is important as the University of Texas and other predominately White colleges and universities have recently come under fire for such practices, with opponents claiming the schools lower standards and overlook White applicants in favor of minority applicants.
The case began in 2008 when Abigail Noel Fisher, a White applicant, was denied admission to the school. Fisher sued, citing that she believed the school discriminated against her due to her race, as other minority applicants with similar academic credentials were admitted. While the school automatically admits students who graduate in the top 10 percent at their high schools, Fisher did not. She had a grade point average of 3.59 and was in the top 12 percent of her class. She applied to another admissions program, which considers talent, leadership, family circumstances, and race. She was denied acceptance.
In the case, lawyers representing the school argued that the Top Ten Percent Program where students were automatically admitted based upon academic performance, wasn’t enough to diversify the campus.
Fisher’s case made it to the Supreme Court. Back in 2012, the Justices sent it back to a lower court, who upheld the school’s program. This second time around, SCOTUS’s 4-3 split is quite predictable with Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kennedy against conservatives Thomas, Roberts and Alito. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, “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 admissions policies.”
During the proceedings, Fisher enrolled at Louisiana State University. She graduated in 2012 with a degree in finance.