Court Upholds Texas Admissions Policy

Two white students who believed they faced discrimination sued the University of Texas-Austin.

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A federal judge on Monday ruled in favor of the University of Texas-Austin and against two white applicants to the state's flagship public college who sued because they felt the school's admissions policies unfairly favored minority applicants, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks found that the university's admissions policies were narrowly tailored, especially in terms of race, and therefore constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the University of Michigan Law School's use of race in admissions, guided Sparks's decision. "The Texas solicitor general summarized this case best when he stated, 'If the plaintiffs are right, Grutter is wrong,' " Sparks wrote in his decision.

Two Texans, Abigail Fisher of Sugar Land and Rachel Michalewicz of Buda, filed the lawsuit together last year. The suit argued that the university should not have started considering applicants' races when it had in place a more effective, race-neutral approach to achieve diversity. The suit refers to a law in place since 1997 that automatically grants admission to any of the state's public colleges or universities to Texas students in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that colleges may consider race in admissions but must first give "serious, good-faith consideration" to "workable, race-neutral" alternatives to achieve diversity. Race-conscious policies must be narrowly tailored to promote a compelling government interest, the court said. Since Grutter, the University of Texas has reintroduced some consideration of race into the application process to ensure greater diversity than the 10 percent law can achieve.

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