Whether it is constitutional for the admissions program at the University of Texas to consider race as one factor, among many, in attempting to create a diverse educational experience for its students.
On June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the lower court to reconsider the University of Texas’ admissions policy. The 7-1 decision leaves intact the important principle that universities have a compelling interest in a diverse student body, and that race can be one factor among many that universities consider in a carefully crafted admissions program.
In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that universities have a compelling interest in creating a diverse student body and that they may consider race as one factor, among many, in deciding which students to admit. In 2005, the University of Texas adopted an admissions program that was modeled in part on the Michigan program that the Supreme Court had upheld. It did so as a supplement to its Ten Percent Plan – which automatically admitted the top 10% of each high school graduating class – in an effort to increase diversity at the classroom level. The ACLU amicus brief focuses on the standard that should be applied in evaluating the Texas program, arguing that it is sufficient under Supreme Court precedent to show that the university gave serious good faith consideration to race-neutral alternatives.
This case is now before the Court for the second time.
In 2013, the Court reaffirmed the principle that public universities have a compelling interest in a diverse student body but sent the case back to the court of appeals to determine whether UT’s admissions policy is narrowly tailored to achieve that goal. On remand, the court of appeals again ruled in favor of the University. The ACLU supports that result, but also urges the Court to abandon the view that there is no constitutional distinction between race-conscious plans designed to ameliorate discrimination and those designed to perpetuate it.