(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, the Project on Fair Representation, a not-for-profit legal defense foundation, filed a certiorari petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Abigail Fisher in Fisher v. Univ. of Texas. (Fisher II)
In 2008, Ms. Fisher sued the Univ. of Texas after she was denied admission to the freshman class. She argued that her race or ethnicity should not have been a factor UT considered when she and every other applicant sought “holistic” admission outside of the Texas Top Ten Percent law.
Ms. Fisher lost her case at the district court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (3-0), but the U.S. Supreme Court accepted her appeal and arguments were made there in October, 2012. On June 24, 2013, in a 7-1 opinion, the high court vacated the opinion of the Fifth Circuit and remanded the case back for further considerations. Specifically, the opinion said the lower courts had erred when they gave deference to UT’s racial classifications and preferences instead of using the more demanding legal standard known as “strict scrutiny.”
After a new round of briefing and arguments in 2013 and 2014, the same panel of judges, but this time with an energetic dissent from Judge Emilio Garza, concluded that UT’s racial admissions policies also met the strict scrutiny articulated by the Supreme Court in Fisher I.
Abigail Fisher commented, “It is my hope that once again the justices will take this case and end the unlawful use of race and ethnicity in admissions at the Univ. of Texas.”
Fisher added, “There are hundreds of high school graduates throughout the state of Texas who are unnecessarily being treated differently because of their skin color and ethnic heritage. This is simply unfair.”
The question presented to the court is, “Whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University of Texas at Austin’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions decisions can be sustained under this Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.” (Fisher I)
Edward Blum, president of the Project on Fair Representation, said, “The Fifth Circuit’s recent decision at this stage of the case is as badly flawed as its earlier one. There is still no legally compelling reason for UT to favor some students over others based on their race and ethnicity.”
Blum added, “The race-neutral Top Ten Percent Plan has created more racial diversity at the Univ. of Texas than at any other school of its size and stature in the nation. Adding race preferences to the Top Ten plan is unnecessary, divisive, stigmatizing, and unconstitutional.”
Blum concluded, “For Abby Fisher and the thousands of graduates applying to college each year, the Supreme Court should grant review of this case and apply the doctrine it articulated in Fisher I which demands implementation of race neutral admissions practices before turning to preferences. As the petition highlights, if this case is not reviewed, the Fifth Circuit’s decision will give a green light to universities and courts throughout the nation to ignore race neutral admissions practices and accelerate race preferences instead.”