University of Texas Argues Before U.S. Supreme Court for Consideration of Race in Admissions

The University of Texas at Austin today argued before the United States Supreme Court that the school's use of race as one of many factors in its admissions process is narrowly tailored, constitutional and necessary to ensure a diverse student body that is vital to higher education.

"The educational benefits of diversity are worth fighting for all the way to the Supreme Court. Our lawyers effectively made the case to the justices that diversity ethnic and otherwise benefits all students on campus. We made the case that UT has crafted an admissions policy that meets the strict guidelines established by the court in the Grutter decision nine years ago," President Bill Powers said after oral arguments were completed in the case of Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin.

"The last time the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case involving The University of Texas' use of race in admissions was 60 years ago. The issue then was about excluding African Americans and we were on the wrong side of history. The University of Texas lost that case, but the nation won and has benefited ever since as we have grown more inclusive," Powers said. "Our current admissions process is part of the legacy of that court's decisions, which sought to eradicate segregation. Our policy adheres to the spirit and letter of the court's rulings on the use of race in admissions."

The university was represented before the court by former U.S. Solicitor General Greg Garre and the law firm Latham and Watkins. The U.S. Department of Justice also argued on the university's behalf.

The university was supported before the arguments by more than 60 amicus briefs from retired generals, Fortune 500 corporations, higher education leaders, University of Texas alumni, social scientists, civil rights groups, students, and leaders of other states, among others.

The plaintiff in the Fisher case claims she was denied undergraduate admission to the university in 2008 because she is white. But the facts show otherwise. The university argued before the court that its admissions system, which considers an applicant's race along with many other factors in an individualized, holistic review, is a constitutional practice that promotes the educational benefits of diversity at the university.