(New York, NY) – Today, a federal district court upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) consideration of race in student admissions. Fisher v. Texas is the first federal court challenge to the use of race in university admissions since the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision, where the United States Supreme Court declared that universities can take account of race in pursuing the compelling interest in a diverse student population. LDF and Fulbright & Jaworski, LLC filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of UT’s admissions plan, on behalf of UT’s Black Student Alliance and several African-American students who are enrolled or who would like to enroll at UT in the future.
The court concluded that, consistent with Grutter, UT’s plan seeks to “‘break down racial stereotypes,’ enable students to better understand persons of different races, better prepare students to function in a multi-cultural workforce, cultivate the next set of national leaders, and prevent minority students from serving as ‘spokespersons’ for their race.” The court rejected plaintiffs’ claims that Texas’s law guaranteeing admission to the top ten percent of high school graduates generated a sufficiently diverse student body at UT.
“LDF has fought tirelessly to ensure the pathways to success and leadership are open and accessible to all students. Today’s decision will allow the University of Texas at Austin to continue its essential and well-documented efforts to provide a truly diverse educational environment for its students.” said John Payton, LDF President and Director-Counsel.
LDF’s brief detailed the need for greater African-American enrollment to achieve the educational benefits of diversity. It also addressed the severe racial isolation experienced by African-American students at UT. As the court recognized, in 2002, 90% of UT classes with between five and 24 students had only one or no African-American students.
Today’s decision in Fisher v. Texas, issued by Judge Sam Sparks of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, can be found in the right-hand column under Legal Documents.