NAICU Washington Update

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Race Use in Admissions

July 06, 2015

The legal battle over the use of race in admissions will get another hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court most likely in the fall.

The court has announced that it would again hear the Fisher v. University of Texas case. The plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, was not admitted to the University of Texas when she applied as an undergraduate in 2008, and she sued the university, charging that its admissions procedures put too much emphasis on race. The case worked its way through the courts and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the university. Fisher appealed to the Supreme Court which heard the case and ruled in June 2013 that the 5th Circuit “did not hold the university to the demanding burden of strict scrutiny articulated in Grutter and Bakke.” The case was sent back to the Fifth Circuit for reconsideration.

After new hearings, the Fifth Circuit again found the University of Texas “race conscious” admissions process to be consistent with the standards of Grutter and Bakke. Fisher petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case for a second time, and the Court agreed on June 29 it would hear the case again. It is expected the case will be heard in the Fall with a decision likely announced in late Spring 2016.

NAICU joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and many other higher education associations in an amicus brief in support of the university during the Supreme Court’s previous consideration of the case. ACE has already signaled that it again plans to support the University of Texas in this new hearing, and NAICU will very likely join a new amicus brief from the higher education community. NAICU’s Legal Services Review Panel, which advises the president and board about amicus briefs, will be involved in development of the specific arguments to be made in this new brief.

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