University of Texas Again Faces a Lawsuit Over Race-Sensitive Admissions

Abigail Noel Fisher, a white high school senior, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin due to a race-sensitive admissions plan that does not conform to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Grutter ruling that upheld the use of race in admissions decision at the University of Michigan School of Law.

The Grutter ruling stated that public universities should exhaust race-neutral alternatives to achieve diversity before resorting to considerations of race. The current lawsuit notes that the Texas 10 percent plan, which automatically guarantees students who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class a place at the state university of their choice, has been successful in achieving an adequate level of racial diversity. The suit notes that the percentage of black and Hispanic students at the university under the 10 percent plan is now higher than was the case in 1996 when race-sensitive admissions were banned as a result of the Hopwood decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Today, 81 percent of all places at the University of Austin go to students who finished in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Therefore, 19 percent of the spots in the entering class are decided by admissions officials who are permitted to use race as a consideration when making these decisions.

The plaintiffs in this new lawsuit contend that race-neutral measures have been successful in increasing diversity. Therefore, they argue, the continued use of race-sensitive admissions is no longer justified.