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Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin  

Last Updated: Nov 20, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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On October 10, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for Fisher v. University of Texas. The petitioner, Abigail Fisher, a white student, challenged the university's consideration of race in the undergraduate admissions process. Fisher, who was denied admission to UT Austin in Fall 2008, argued that UT's use of race in admissions decisions violated 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 was whether the Supreme Court's decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Grutter, permitted UT's use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions. Fisher claimed that either this use of race did not fall into the constitutional parameters of Grutter or that Grutter must be overturned.

Oral argument before the Supreme Court occurred on October 10, 2012. Justice Kagan recused herself from the case because of her participation as solicitor general when the case was before the court of appeals.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 24, 2013, by a vote of 7 to 1, to vacate the Circuit Court's opinion and remand the case back to the 5th Circuit for review under the "strict scrutiny" standard.

The 5th Circuit heard oral arguments on November 13, 2013, and ruled in favor of UT by a vote of 2 to 1 on July 15, 2014. On November 12, 2014, the 5th Circuit declined to rehear the case. Fisher petitioned to have the Supreme Court to review the case again, and that request was granted on June 29, 2015. Oral argument before the Supreme Court is scheduled for December 9, 2015. 

See Fisher v. University of Texas, 631 F.3d 213 (5th Cir. 2011).

See Fisher v. University of Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2411, 570 US __, 186 L. Ed. 2d 474 (2013).

See Fisher v. University of Texas, 758 F.3d 633 (5th Cir. 2014).


Latest News Articles

Nashwa Bawab, "SG Halts Affirmative Action Resolution," Daily Texan, November 18, 2015.

Ashvin Govil, "Societal Inequalities Prove the Necessity for Affirmative Action," Daily Texan, November 17, 2015.

Benjamin Wermund, "United States, Big Business Back UT in Admissions Case," Houston Chronicle, November 6, 2015.

Benjamin Wermund, "A Brief Rooted in History Filed in UT Admissions Case," Houston Chronicle, October 27, 2015.

Matthew Adams, "University Files Respondent Brief in Fisher Case," Daily Texan, October 27, 2015.

Matthew Watkins, "UT to Supreme Court: We Need Affirmative Action," Texas Tribune, October 26, 2015.

Caleb Wong, "University to File Brief Regarding UT v. Fisher Case," Daily Texan, October 26, 2015.

Daniel Hung, "Affirmative Action Likely to be Struck Down," Daily Texan, October 25, 2015.

Julia Brouillette, "As Fisher Case Draws Near, Students Question Diversity in Recruiting, On Campus," Daily Texan, October 19, 2015.

Thomas Dowling, "Supreme Court to Tackle Affirmative Action," USA Today, October 9, 2015.

Matthew Adams, "NAACP Collects Data for Brief in Fisher v. UT," Daily Texan, October 7, 2015.

Jordan Rudner, "Texas Cases Factor in New Supreme Court Term," Texas Tribune, October 6, 2015.

Noah Feldman, "Commentary: The Two Cases to Watch This Supreme Court Term," Chicago Tribune, October 5, 2015.

Editorial, "The Biggest Questions Awaiting the Supreme Court," New York Times, October 5, 2015.

Noah Horwitz, "Like Davis Statue, Fisher Case Threatens Diversity on Campus," Daily Texan, September 15, 2015.

Graham Dickie & Julia Brouillette, "Supreme Court Likely to Decide Legal Battle Over Race-Conscious Admissions at UT," Daily Texan, August 24, 2015.

Eric Hoover, "Colleges Seek Diversity, but ‘Admissions Calculus’ Hasn’t Changed," Chronicle of Higher Education, July 21, 2015.

Miriam Rozen, "Abigail Fisher's Lawyer Pins High Hopes on Round 2 at SCOTUS," Texas Lawyer, July 6, 2015.

Rick Jervis, "Voices: Affirmative Action Helps, But More is Needed," USA Today, July 5, 2015.

Tamar Lewin & Richard Perez-Pena, "Colleges Braces for Supreme Court Review of Race-Based Admissions," New York Times, June 30, 2015.

Peter Schmidt, "What to Expect as the Supreme Court Revisits Race in Admissions," Chronicle of Higher Education, June 30, 2015.

Jess Bravin, "U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Affirmative Action at Public Universities," Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2015.

Ilya Somin, "Important Affirmative Action Case Returns to the Supreme Court," Washington Post, June 29, 2015.

Adam Liptak, "Supreme Court to Weigh Race in College Admissions," New York Times, June 29, 2015.

Matthew Watkins, "Supreme Court to Again Hear Challenge to UT's Admissions Rules," Texas Tribune, June 29, 2015.

Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, "U.S. Supreme Court Still Mulling Over UT Admissions Case," Austin American-Statesman, June 22, 2015.

Miriam Rozen, "SCOTUS Scheduled to Consider Fisher's Request to Rehear University of Texas Case," Texas Lawyer, May 28, 2015.

"Justice Kennedy’s Race Do-Over: Texas Refuses to Obey the Supreme Court on College Admissions," Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2015.

Richard D. Kahlenberg, "For the Sake of Working-Class Students, Give ‘Fisher’ Another Chance," Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2015.

Roger Clegg & Joshua Thompson, "The Court Should Finish What it Started in the Fisher Case," National Review Online, May 14, 2015.

Daniel Hung, "Nix the Top 10 Percent Rule, Affirmative Action," Daily Texan, April 5, 2015.

Peter Schmidt, "U. of Texas’ Chief Might Have Exposed Its Admissions Policy to New Supreme Court Challenge," Chronicle of Higher Education, March 18, 2015.

Linda Greenhouse, "Groundhog Day at the Supreme Court: Will the Supreme Court Consider Affirmative Action Again?," New York Times, February 19, 2015.

Samantha Ketterer, "Fisher Requests Supreme Court Hear Case Against UT a Second Time," Daily Texan, February 11, 2015.

Breanne Deppisch, "Though Fisher Continues to Fight, Her Day in Court is Done," Daily Texan, November 21, 2014.

Jazmyn Griffin, "Supreme Court Should Rehear Abigail Fisher's Case, Put the Issue to Rest," Daily Texan, November 21, 2014.

"Court Backs UT in Race-Admissions Case," Austin American-Statesman, November 12, 2014.

Alex Wilts, "Law Professors Say Fisher Case Has Uncertain Future," Daily Texan, August 25, 2014.

Lisa Falkenberg, "Abigail Fisher Needs to Get on With Her Life," Houston Chronicle, August 7, 2014.

Benjamin Wermund, "Fisher Asks Appeals Court to Reconsider UT Admissions Case," Houston Chronicle, July 30, 2014.

Linda Greenhouse, "With All Due Deference: Ruling Defends Affirmative Action From New Challenges," New York Times, July 23, 2014.

Michael McGough, "Supreme Court Should Give This Affirmative Action Case a Pass," Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2014.

David Davis, Jr., "Diversity Goals Do Not Benefit Black Students," Daily Texan, July 20, 2014.

Ilya Somin, "Fifth Circuit Upholds University of Texas Affirmative Action Program in Fisher Case on Remand From the Supreme Court," Washington Post (Volokh Conspiracy Blog), July 16, 2014.

Editorial, "Abigail Fisher Should End Her Lawsuit Against UT," Austin American-Statesman, July 16, 2014.

Amanda Voeller, "Appeals Court Rules in Favor of UT's Admissions Policy in Fisher Case," Daily Texan, July 15, 2014.

Nathan Koppel, "Court Upholds University of Texas Admissions Program," Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2014.

Reeve Hamilton, "Appeals Court: UT-Austin May Use Race in Admissions," Texas Tribune, July 15, 2014.

Peter Schmidt, "U. of Texas Flagship’s Use of Race in Admissions Can Stand, Court Rules," Chronicle of Higher Education, July 15, 2014.

Tamar Lewin, " Appeals Panel Upholds Race in Admissions for University," New York Times, July 15, 2014.

Benjamin Wermund, "Appeals Court Upholds UT Admissions Policy," Houston Chronicle, July 15, 2014.

Adam Liptak, "Unofficial Enforcer of Ruling on Race in College Admissions," New York Times, April 7, 2014.

Ilya Somin, "Assessing the Potential Impact of Fisher v. University of Texas on Affirmative Action Programs," Washington Post (Volokh Conspiracy blog), February 20, 2014.

Amanda Voeller, "Fifth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments for Fisher v. UT Case," Daily Texan, November 13, 2013.

Manny Fernandez, "Texas University's Race Admissions Case is Debated Before a Federal Court," New York Times, November 13, 2013.

Reeve Hamilton, "Between Fisher and Fawcett, a Big Day in Court for UT," Texas Tribune, November 13, 2013.

Editorial, "The Racial Runaround," Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2013.

Jacob Kerr, "Fisher v. UT Placed on Appellate Schedule," Daily Texan, September 24, 2013.

Ilya Shapiro, "Fighting Dirty to Save Affirmative Action," USA Today, August 7, 2013.

Erwin Chemerinsky, "What's Next for Affirmative Action?," ABA Journal, August 6, 2013.

Editorial, "Texas Race Case Defiance," Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2013.

Linda Greenhouse, "The Cost of Compromise," New York Times, July 10, 2013.

Miriam Rozen, "U.S. Supreme Court Remands UT Affirmative Action Case," Texas Lawyer, July 1, 2013.

The Daily Texan Editorial Board, "The Real Victor in Fisher v. University of Texas Yet to be Determined," Daily Texan, June 30, 2013.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., "Colorblind Justice: Clarence Thomas Discerns the Line Between Diversity and Equal Protection," Washington Times, June 27, 2013.

George F. Will, "Tangled Web Spun by Supreme Court Remains Tangled," Contra Costa Times, June 25, 2013.

Tanya Katerí Hernández, "What to Celebrate and Lament About the Fisher Decision," National Law Journal, June 25, 2013.

Jeneba Ghatt, "Fisher v UT: Diversity in College Admissions Upheld, But for How Long?," Washington Times, June 25, 2013.

Theodore R. Johnson, "A Missed Opportunity on Racial Preferences," Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2013.

Editorial, "The Texas Race Dodge," Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2013.

John Schwartz and Richard Perez-Pena, "Lacking Definitive Ruling on Affirmative Action, Both Sides Claim Victory," New York Times, June 24, 2013.

Adam Liptak, "Supreme Court Orders Lower Court to Reconsider Affirmative Action Case," New York Times, June 24, 2013.

Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall, "Supreme Court Returns Affirmative-Action Case to Lower Court," Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2013.

Adam Liptak, "Supreme Court Weighs Cases Redefining Legal Equality," New York Times, June 23, 2013.

Natasha Kumar Warikoo, "Who Gets Admitted to College?," Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2013.

"Editorial: Discrimination By Another Name," Washington Times, June 14, 2013.

Sherrilyn A. Ifill, "Race vs. Class: The False Dichotomy," New York Times, June 13, 2013.

Carolyn Chen, "Affirmative Action and Breaking the 'Bamboo Ceiling' for Asian Americans," Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2013.

Linda Greenhouse, "What's Your Hurry?," New York Times, June 12, 2013.

Scott Clement, "Wide Majority Opposes Race-Based College Admissions Programs, Post-ABC Poll Finds," Washington Post, June 11, 2013.

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, "Clarence Thomas and Affirmative Action," National Law Journal, June 3, 2013.

Eric Rozenman, " ‘Diversity,’ No; Individualism, Yes: America is Founded on Diversity, Not Quotas," Washington Times, May 27, 2013.

Richard Wolf, "Supreme Court to Make Crucial Rulings on Race," USA Today, May 9, 2013.

Joan Biskupic, "Court May Limit Use of Race in College Admission Decisions," Chicago Tribune, April 28, 2013.

"Unequal Protection," The Economist, April 27, 2013.

The Daily Texan Editorial Board, "Holistic Review Attracts Top Students," Daily Texan, April 22, 2013.

The Daily Texan Editorial Board, "Facing Fisher, UT Needs a Contigency Plan," Daily Texan, April 7, 2013.

Joshua Fechter, "Lawmakers Prepare for Ramifications of Fisher Case on UT Admissions," Daily Texan, April 4, 2013.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, "A Colorblind Constitution: What Abigail Fisher's Affirmative Action Case is Really About," ProPublica, March 18, 2013.

David Leonhardt, "The Liberals Against Affirmative Action," New York Times, March 9, 2013.

Matthew M. Chingos, "Are Minority Students Harmed by Affirmative Action," Brookings Institute Brown Center Chalkboard, March 7, 2013.

Krissah Thompson, "Edward Blum defies odds in getting cases to Supreme Court," Washington Post, February 26, 2013.

Dawinder S. Sidhu, "A Critical Look at the 'Critical Mass' Argument," Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2013.

Yvette D. Clarke, "State of Equality and Justice in America: Another Side of the Debate on Affirmative Action," Washington Post, January 25, 2013.

Gail Heriot, "The Sad Irony of Affirmative Action," National Affairs, Winter 2013.

Joan Biskupic, "Special Report: Behind U.S. Race Cases, a Little-Known Recruiter," Reuters, December 4, 2012.

Cindy Casares, "Fisher v. University of Texas: Have We Reached Critical Mass," Texas Observer, November 8, 2012.

Richard D. Kahlenberg, "Why Not an Income-Based Affirmative Action?," Washington Post, November 8, 2012.

Ethan Bronner, "Asian-Americans in the Argument," New York Times, November 1, 2012.

Reeve Hamilton, "UT Case Could Force Another Look at Top Ten Percent," Texas Tribune, October 26, 2012.

Lino Graglia, "Race Based College Admissions a Bad Idea," Austin American-Statesman, October 14, 2012.

David Leonhardt, "Rethinking Affirmative Action," New York Times, October 13, 2012.

Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr., "The Unraveling of Affirmative Action," Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2012.

Jason L. Riley, "Roberts and the Left," Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2012.

Adam Liptak, "Justices Weigh Race as Factor at Universities," New York Times, October 10, 2012.

Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, "Supreme Court Grills UT, Plaintiff On Use of Race in Admissions," Austin American-Statesman, October 10, 2012.

Seth Cline, "Sharp Questioning by Supreme Court Justices in Affirmative Action Case," US News & World Report, October 10, 2012.

Richard D. Kahlenberg, "A Liberal Critique of Racial Preferences, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2012.

Bill Powers, "An Admissions Policy That Prizes Diversity," Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2012. 

Ben Wolfgang, "High Court to Again Consider Racial Quotas," Washington Times, October 9, 2012.

Lee C. Bollinger and Claude M. Steele, "A High-Stakes Battle For Higher Education," Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2012.

Lana Guinier and Penda D. Hair, "UT History Matters in Affirmative Action Case," The Root, October 8, 2012.

Mike Tolson, "Supreme Court to Take Up UT Admission Case," Houston Chronicle, October 7, 2012.

Robert Barnes, "Supreme Court Receives Outpouring of Conflicting Views on Affirmative Action," Washington Post, October 7, 2012.

Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, "High Court to Hear Argument's on UT's Consideration of Race in Admissions," Austin American-Statesman, October 6, 2012.

Lincoln Kaplan, "Colleges Value Diversity, but Will the Court?," New York Times, October 6, 2012.

Lino A. Graglia, "Guest Column: Race Has No Place in College Admissions," Texas Tribune, October 5, 2012.

Megan Strickland, "UT Works to Diversify Enrollment in Face of Legal Battle," Daily Texan, October 5, 2012.

Martha L. Minow and Robert C. Post, "Why Race Matters in School Admissions," Washington Post, October 5, 2012.

Ben Wieder, "Affirmative Action Gets a Hearing," Stateline, October 5, 2012.

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