Fisher v. University of Texas (Fisher II)

579 U.S. 365, 136 S. Ct. 2198, 195 L. Ed. 2d 511 (2016)

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Fisher v. University of Texas (Fisher II)

United States Supreme Court
579 U.S. 365, 136 S. Ct. 2198, 195 L. Ed. 2d 511 (2016)

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Facts

In 1996, the Fifth Circuit held that the University of Texas (UT) (defendant) admission process, which gave a blanket preference to minority applicants, was unconstitutional. The Texas legislature then adopted the Top Ten Percent Law, which guaranteed admission to Texas students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high-school class. Such students constituted about 75 percent of each incoming class at UT. Admission decisions for the remaining slots were based on a holistic review that considered academic performance, leadership experience, extracurriculars, community service, and other special characteristics. Originally, race was not a consideration. However, over time, UT did not see sufficient racial diversity. After a year-long study, it was proposed that race be considered as a special characteristic during holistic review. The proposal stated that doing so would promote cross-racial understanding, cultivate a robust exchange of ideas, and better prepare students for an increasingly diverse world. UT’s board approved the proposal. Abigail Fisher (plaintiff) was denied admission. She sued UT, alleging that its admissions policy violated the Equal Protection Clause by considering race. A district court deemed the admissions process constitutional, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed. However, the United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Fifth Circuit had applied a standard too deferential and should have instead applied strict scrutiny. On remand, the Fifth Circuit found that the admissions policy satisfied strict scrutiny. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

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