Affirmative Action Case Returns to Fifth Circuit Court - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Affirmative Action Case Returns to Fifth Circuit Court



    Affirmative Action Case Returns to Fifth Circuit Court

    Attorneys are preparing to again argue over a race-based University of Texas admissions plan as the case returns to court this week.

    It heads to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court sent it back for another look. The court's 7-1 decision on June 24 left unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said the 5th Circuit Court needs to subject the UT admission plan to the highest level of judicial scrutiny.

    The case was raised by Abigail Fisher, a white Texan who wasn't offered a spot at UT in 2008. Fisher has since received her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University.

    Fisher's attorneys have argued in court papers that UT's "Evasion and recalcitrance" show that it has lost "sight of the constitutional forest for the academic trees," the Austin American-Statesman reported.

    UT attorneys said Fisher's case is "botched beyond repair" and an "empty vehicle for ideological struggle," the newspaper reported.

    About three-fourths of UT's incoming freshmen are admitted based exclusively on high school class ranking, and Fisher did not rank high enough for automatic admission. The other quarter of incoming freshmen are screened based on grades, test scores, special talents, leadership qualities, family circumstances and a variety of other factors, including race and ethnicity, the American-Statesman reported.

    Black applicants were barred from UT by state law until 1950, when the Supreme Court ordered a black man admitted to the UT School of Law. This fall, Hispanics made up 21.7 percent of UT's undergraduates, blacks 4.9 percent, Asian-Americans 17.8 percent, whites 47.7 percent and various other groups 7.9 percent.