US Supreme Court to Hear Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas

The US Supreme Court announced on June 29, 2015 that it would hear arguments in Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas (Fisher II). This is the second time the justices have considered Abigail Fisher’s appeal from a ruling out of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Fisher sued the Univ. of Texas in 2008 after she was rejected as an undergraduate applicant. She alleged that UT’s use of race-based affirmative action unfairly denied her a place at the university. She lost her case in the lower courts but successfully petitioned the US Supreme Court which heard her case in 2012.

In June, 2013, the high court vacated the decision by the Fifth Circuit (7-1, Kagan recused) that had upheld UT’s reintroduction of racial classifications and preferences. The opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy held that the lower court had not applied the correct standards for the use of racial classifications and preferences in college admissions. The case was remanded back to the lower court for the application of this new, stricter standard. After a new round of briefing and arguments, the Fifth Circuit once again upheld UT’s racial preferences.

Abigail Fisher said, “I am very grateful that the Supreme Court will once again hear my case. I hope the justices will rule that UT is not allowed to treat undergraduate applicants differently because of their race or ethnicity.”

Edward Blum, president of the Project on Fair Representation, said, “For nearly 8 years, Abby Fisher and her family have endured repeated calls to drop her lawsuit from the editorial boards of newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, Austin America- Statesman, and the Dallas Morning News. It is a testament to her courage and tenacity that she wisely ignored them and will once again have her day in court.”

Blum added, “It is a terrible shame that Abby and thousands of UT applicants have been unfairly treated because of their race and ethnicity. This is especially troubling in light of the secret and scandalous admissions policies run by UT officials to benefit the underqualified applicants of politically and financially powerful benefactors.”

Blum concluded, “The outcome of this case may bring our nation closer to the day when a student’s race and ethnicity is not a factor that a school may consider during the admissions process.”

The Project on Fair Representation has provided counsel in a number of landmark Supreme Court cases including Northwest Austin Municipal Utility Dist. No. One v. Holder, Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas (Fisher I) and Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder, and Evenwel v. Abbott.

Attorneys for Ms. Fisher are Mr. Bert Rein of Wiley Rein in Washington, DC; and Mr. William Consovoy and Mr. Thomas McCarthy of Consovoy McCarthy in Arlington, Virginia; and Mr. Paul Terrill in Austin, Texas.

Media Contact: Edward Blum ((703) 505-1922