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November-14-14

Fifth Circuit Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to Affirmative Action at University of Texas

The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has refused to rehear a ruling that permits the use of race as a factor of consideration in undergraduate admissions at the University of Texas.

In a brief order issued on Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit indicated that the decision to refuse rehearing was 10-5.

Twice before, the Fifth Circuit sided with the University of Texas at Austin in a case brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who believes UT discriminated against her when she was denied admission six years ago. UT considers race as a factor for roughly 25 percent of students who are not admitted under the Top 10 percent rule, which grants automatic admission to the top students of a high school's graduating class. Fisher did not meet the 10 percent threshold and was denied admission. She claimed that UT rejected her because of her race and that the school's admission policy is therefore a violation of the 14th Amendment.

"We are pleased with the ruling of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit," UT Austin President Bill Powers said in a statement following the Court's decision. "The University of Texas at Austin is committed to maintaining a student body that provides the educational benefits of diversity while respecting the rights of all students. The exchange of ideas and cultural richness that occurs when students from diverse backgrounds come together on our campus prepares all our students for life in a global society."

Fisher's attorneys plan to file an appeal to the Supreme Court within the next 90 days.

The Supreme Court is not unfamiliar with the case. In 2012, the Supreme Court heard Fisher's appeal from the Fifth Circuit's original ruling in favor of the University. At that time, the Supreme Court voided the Fifth Circuit's decision and sent the case back for the Fifth Circuit to determine whether the University's use of a race-conscious admissions policy could survive "strict scrutiny." After hearing the case again, the Fifth Circuit continued to uphold the University's admissions policy.

Media Resources: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit 11/12/14; University of Texas at Austin 11/12/14; Houston Chronicle 11/12/14; Feminist Newswire 7/16/14

   

     

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