Fisher v. University of Texas – Austin is a U.S. Supreme Court case that challenged the constitutionality of the consideration of race in the University of Texas (UT) undergraduate admissions policy. The case was first filed in 2008 by two white women, Noel Fisher and Rachel Multer Michalewicz, who were rejected by the University of Texas at Austin and alleged that the university had discriminated against them on the basis of race. in June 2013, the Court upheld, in Fisher I, the landmark decisions of Grutter v. Bollinger and Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, which broadly affirmed the educational importance of diversity, and remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit for further review consistent with those decisions’ requirement of strict scrutiny review. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld UT’s admissions policy in 2011 and again in 2014 on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court.
The admissions policy at issue in Fisher has two components: UT admits all Texas residents who rank in the top ten percent of their high school class. For the remainder of the class, UT undertakes a holistic “whole-file” review of applications. This process allows the school to consider additional criteria, such as essays, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities, awards, work experience, community service, family responsibilities, socio-economic status, languages spoken in the home, and—as of 2005—race. Fisher’s lawsuit centered on this modest consideration. In July 2014, the Fifth Circuit upheld the policy, finding that UT’s program was narrowly tailored to advance the compelling government interest in the educational benefits of diversity. The Court found that the holistic review component of the admissions process a modest but, important complement to the Top Ten percent component of UT’s admissions program,