Posted on August 5, 2010

UT’s Affirmative Action Policies Questioned in Court

Caitlin Perrone, The Horn (University of Texas, Austin), August 4, 2010

The University of Texas petitioned before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Tuesday to maintain the university’s current admission policy, which considers race as a factor when deciding student admissions. The trial was held before a three-panel judge in response to a lawsuit filed in 2008, which challenged the university’s affirmative action policies.

According to The Statesman, this is the first case to challenge a university’s affirmative action policy in regards to student admissions since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003, where the federal court upheld the consideration of race during the admission process at the University of Michigan Law School. In 2008, Abigail Fischer and Rachel Michalewicz filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas after being denied from the school, claiming the University of Texas’ “race-conscious policy violated their civil and constitutional rights.”

A 1996 case, Hopwood v. Texas, forbade the use of race in admissions. In response, the Top 10 Percent Plan, which automatically accepts all students in the top 10 percent of their high school class, became Texas’ race-neutral admissions policy.

Hopwood v. Texas was however nullified 2003 after the U.S. Supreme Court approved the use of race as a factor for admission at the University of Michigan Law School. Immediately after the decision, the University of Texas added race to their mixture of factors in regards to admission, all the while upholding the Top 10 Percent Plan.