Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas

The University of Texas admissions program that takes account of race was upheld Thursday by the Supreme Court in a 4-3 vote.

The university considers race along with many other factors while admitting the last quarter of incoming freshman classes. Most University of Texas freshman are admitted guaranteed admission if they graduated in the top 10 percent of their Texas high school class.

The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Abigail Fisher, a white Texan who was denied admission to the university’s main campus in Austin in 2008. In her case, Fisher claimed she was rejected from the school while African-American applicants with lower grades and test scores were admitted. The school said Fisher, who did not graduate in the top 10 percent of her high school class, would not have been admitted with or without race as a factor. However, university officials did conditionally offer her to transfer in as a sophomore if she maintained a 3.2 grade point average at another public college in Texas.

Fisher instead attended Louisiana State University, graduated from there in 2012, and pursued her lawsuit. Fisher was recruited for the suit by Edward Blum, an opponent of racial preferences in education and politics who was behind a major challenge to the Voting Rights Act that resulted in the court removing a key provision of the law.

Justices issued an inconclusive ruling in 2013 to Fisher’s case, which sent her case back to a lower court and set the stage for Monday’s decision.

The university’s current freshman class is 22 percent Hispanic and 4.5 percent African-American. White students make up less than half the school’s freshmen class.

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