(New York, NY) – On Friday, March 12, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.This case is the first federal litigation challenging the use of race in university admissions since the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision upholding the University of Michigan Law School’s race-conscious admissions process in Grutter v. Bollinger.
The challenge was launched in 2008 by two white students who were denied entry to UT Austin. Most students are admitted to UT Austin under the Top Ten Percent Plan, which guarantees admission to all Texas students in the top ten percent of their high school class. The remaining students are admitted under a holistic admissions process that considers race as one of many factors in a student’s application file. Last year, a federal district court upheld the limited use of race in UT Austin’s holistic admissions process, finding the plan constitutional under a straightforward application of Grutter.The district court stated that “as long as Grutter remains good law, UT’s current admissions program remains constitutional.”
LDF’s friend-of-the-court brief, filed on behalf of the Black Student Alliance at UT Austin, emphasizes the limited enrollment of and the isolation experienced by African-American students in the eight-year period before UT Austin reinstituted race as a factor in admissions for the 2005 entering class. By themselves, the Top Ten Percent Plan and other race-neutral efforts that the University pursued were insufficient to achieve a critical mass of African-American students and other students of color, and as a consequence, all students were deprived of the educational benefits of diversity. These benefits are particularly crucial at UT Austin, which is the flagship public university in an increasingly diverse state.
The United States also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case, defending UT Austin’s plan as falling squarely within the constitutional bounds established by the Supreme Court in Grutter