Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals’ Fifth Circuit handed down its decision on Fisher vs. University of Texas, a landmark affirmative action case first filed in 2008 by then-undergraduates Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz (Michalewicz later pulled out of the case), both of whom alleged violation of their rights under the 14th Amendment when they were denied admission to UT Austin.
UT Austin admits 81% of its incoming freshmen under Texas’ “Top 10%” bill, which grants automatic admission to high school students scoring in the top 10% of their graduating class; the remaining admission decisions are based on a holistic review process, which includes consideration of race among many other factors. Fisher argued that her scores — her grades ranked her in the top 12% of her high school class and she scored an 1180 (out of 1600) on her SATs — rendered her highly qualified for the school, and she challenged the school admission board’s use of racial information as unconstitutional.
Yesterday – after the Supreme Court last year kicked the case back down to the lower courts – the Appeals court handed down the final word: yes, UT Austin’s race-conscious holistic review process is constitutional. Abigail Fisher is wrong.
Except, we kind of already knew that.