January 22, 2011

Federal Court Upholds Equal Opportunity Admissions Policy

The Leadership Conference reports..

In a significant victory for advancing equal opportunity in higher education, on January 18, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the constitutionality of University of Texas at Austin's (UT Austin) current admissions policy, which considers race as one of several factors.

The case, Fisher v. Texas, is the first federal appellate challenge to the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld that diversity is a compelling state interest. The 5th Circuit’s decision affirms that UT Austin's policy is consistent with Grutter as it gives colleges and universities latitude to use race, as one of many factors in admissions, to promote diversity within their student bodies.

In its decision, the court said that "Grutter's structure accepts that a university's twin objectives of rewarding academic merit and fostering diversity can be complementary rather than competing goals; that students rising to the top of underrepresented groups demonstrate promise as future leaders. These students' relative success in the face of harmful and widespread stereotypes evidences a degree of drive, determination, and merit not captured by test scores alone." Read more...


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