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UT's Affirmative Action Plan Upheld By Appeals Court

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of The University of Texas at Austin, which lets the school admission's office consider race as a factor.
Posted at 12:16 AM, Jul 16, 2014

In a victory for affirmative action advocates, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of The University of Texas at Austin's admission policies Tuesday, which lets the school's admissions office consider race as a factor.

In the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Abigail Fisher, a white Texas student, claimed she was unfairly denied admission into UT back in 2008. (Getty Images)

Now, Politico says if Fisher would have finished in the top 10 percent of her high school class she would have been automatically admitted — but she fell short.

Either way, Fisher felt she was wronged, and the case was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013. Hundreds rallied, mostly supporters of the school's current affirmative action policies, including the NAACP. (YouTube / Generation Progress)

KVUE reports the high court ruled 7-1 that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals didn't apply "strict scrutiny" in its decision, so they shot it back to the circuit court to hear more arguments which, once again, came out on the side of the University. (Getty Images)

In the divided 2-1 decision, Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote, “We are persuaded that to deny UT Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience." (Via U.S. Court of Appeals)

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers praised the decision in a statement on the university's website. (Getty Images)

“This ruling ensures that our campus, our state, and the entire nation will benefit from the exchange of ideas and thoughts that happens when students who are diverse in all regards come together in the classroom, at campus events, and in all aspects of campus life.”

Tuesday's decision doesn't make this an open-and-shut case, though.

Inside Higher Edpoints out that while it might be a win for affirmative action supporters, lawyers for the other side are already planning to appeal to the Supreme Court, so we'll most likely see this case again.

Tuesday's ruling also runs counter to a Supreme Court decision in April that upheld a Michigan ban on affirmative action polices at its state-run colleges. (Via The New York Times)

In fact, the issue as whole is still up in the air nationally, but the momentum lately seems to be against affirmative action.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and Arizona have all adopted similar amendments in the past four years prohibiting such so-called "positive discrimination" in the form of affirmative action.