On October 10, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments for Fisher v. University of Texas. The petitioner, Abigail Fisher, a white student, challenges the university's consideration of race in the undergraduate admissions process. Fisher, who was denied admission to UT Austin in Fall 2008, argues that UT's use of race in admissions decisions violates her right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
After the Fifth Circuit's Hopwood v. Texas decision in 1996, UT's race-conscious admissions ceased. In response, the Texas Legislature adopted the Top 10 Percent Law. Under this law, which affected admissions cycles beginning in 1997, seniors in the top 10 percent of their high school class are guaranteed admission to any Texas state university. The primary objective of the law is to draw in the best students from each Texas school, including students from predominantly black or hispanic areas, in order to achieve higher levels of diversity.
Following the Supreme Court upholding a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Michigan Law School in Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, UT then reinstated a consideration of race in admissions decisions for those who don't fall within the Top 10 Percent Law.
The question presented is whether the Supreme Court's decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Grutter, permit UT's use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions. Fisher claims that either this use of race does not fall into the constitutional parameters of Grutter or that Grutter must be overturned.
Oral argument before the Supreme Court is set for October 10, 2012. Justice Kagan has recused herself from the case because of her participation as solicitor general when the case was before the court of appeals.
See Fisher v. University of Texas, 631 F.3d 213 (5th Cir. 2011).