in Houston, Texas
Supreme Court to weigh affirmative action case challenging UT admissions policies
Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012, 04:02PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
UT tower

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of two white, female students who sued the University of Texas arguing they were denied admission because of their race, Politico is reporting.

Lower courts here in Texas have found the admissions policies of the university constitutional, rejecting the suit by Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz filed on May 29, 2008. You can find the suit and track the case in those courts here.

Fisher and Michalewicz graduated just outside of the top 10 percent of their respective high school graduating classes, the legal threshold for automatic admission to UT in Austin. The suit argues, however, the school made unfair minority preferences when considering its unfilled openings.

The university contends it was allowed to use race to diversify its student population based on an unusual 2003 Supreme Court ruling on admissions policies at the University of Michigan.

The ruling came in two votes leaving room for interpretation about the role of race in choosing who can and cannot attend a school. Justices voted 5-4 to uphold the admissions policy of the Michigan law school and 6-3 to overturn the school’s undergraduate policy.

The high court followed those votes with a 5-4 decision in 2007 rejecting plans by the Seattle and Louisville public school systems to desegregate their classrooms by use of racial formulas.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of the University of Texas Tower by flickr user Niyantha, used via a Creative Commons license.

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