Supreme Court Ruling for University of Texas Allows Affirmative Action Flexibility

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action student admissions policy, ruling against a white woman from Sugar Land, Texas, who wanted to attend there. Her lawsuit challenged UT’s use of race in admissions decisions, which was implemented in part by accepting the top 10 percent of eligible high school graduates across Texas, along with other considerations including race, community service, leadership, and extra-curricular activities. Attorneys share their thoughts on the high-profile ruling:

Dallas trial lawyer Shonn Brown, partner at Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst, says:

This opinion affirms that the university can take a holistic approach to consider race as one of several factors in admission, while still following the precedents in other court decisions that overturned the use of racial quotas. Diversity should not be viewed as a rigid standard in higher education; I think schools have to be allowed some flexibility for the good of every student, and considering many factors including race where the compelling interest is met, so this decision is the sensible and proper approach.

Houston appellate attorney Misty Coné, shareholder at the appellate and trial law firm GODWIN PC, says:

The Court’s opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas would no doubt be different had Justice Scalia remained on the bench. Scalia’s untimely passing coupled with Justice Kagan’s non-participation resulted in an opinion that not only upheld the use of race-based affirmative action programs in higher education, but also reveals the true impact of the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Much has been written about the post-Scalia era on the Court – a time where the Court focuses on consensus building and ‘minimalist’ decisions. With the Court recently issuing a number of 4-4 decisions, there is some support for this notion. But with categorical evidence illustrating the impact and success of the Texas ‘top 10 percent rule’ as a means of improving diversity and access in Texas colleges and universities, it is very clear that Fisher will not represent the last word on the legality of affirmative action programs in the United States.

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