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Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher I)

United States Supreme Court
133 S. Ct. 2411, 570 U.S. 297 (2013)



The University of Texas at Austin (the University) (defendant) is a prestigious institution of higher learning. Prior to 1996, the University maintained an admissions program that considered an applicant’s race as one of two factors in determining admission. This was held to be unconstitutional in 1996 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Hopwood v. Texas, 78 F.3d 932 (1996). Subsequently, the University ceased considering race as a factor in admissions. The Texas state legislature adopted a new statute, referred to as the Top 10 Percent Law, which granted automatic admission to all public colleges in Texas to all students in the top 10 percent of their classes at Texas high schools. In 2004, the University revised the admissions program again, because the University determined that there was no critical mass of minority students enrolled in the University. Under this program, the University considers the applicant’s academic index, which is calculated from the applicant’s test scores and high school academics, and personal-achievement index, which is based on an applicant’s potential contribution to the University. Race was considered as a component of the personal-achievement index. Race was not assigned a numerical value but was considered a meaningful factor. In 2008, Fisher (plaintiff) applied for admission to the University. Fisher was Caucasian and was denied admission. Approximately 29,500 students applied for admission that year, and only 12,843 were admitted. Fisher sued the University, claiming that the admissions program violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment to the University, and Fisher appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court, and Fisher petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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