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Today Appeals Court upheld affirmative action at the University of Texas, Austin, rejecting one applicant's case against UT's admissions practices.
The Fifth Circuit had previously rejected undergraduate applicant Abigail Fisher’s claims that the university’s affirmative action efforts amounted to unconstitutional racial discrimination. She applied to UT in 2008 but was rejected. Had she been in the top 10 percent of her graduating class, she would have been automatically admitted, but instead she became one of thousands of students vying for a proportionally small number of seats. (Fisher graduated from Louisiana State University in 2012.) Fisher, who is white, argued that she had been discriminated against.
"It is settled that instruments of state may pursue facially neutral policies calculated to promote equality of opportunity among students to whom the public schools of Texas assign quite different starting places in the annual race for seats in its flagship university," Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit wrote. "It is equally settled that universities may use race as part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity."