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Supreme Court Avoids Final Ruling On Affirmative Action

Brianna Sacks |
June 24, 2013 | 10:58 a.m. PDT


The Supreme Court avoided making any decision on the hotly contested issue of affirmative action in school admissions Monday, sending the case Fisher V. University of Texas at Austin back to lower courts for another review.

In a seven-to-one decision, the court sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling that the lower court used the wrong standards to evaluate the race-based admissions policy used to admit students at the University of Texas.

SEE ALSO:  Supreme Court Divided Over Texas Affirmative Action Case

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that the Fifth Circuit should not have given UT Austin as much deference on the matter of whether its limited approach to racial considerations met the standard set by the Supreme Court in 2003.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin was brought to the court by Abigail Fisher, a white student who applied to UT Austin as a high school senior in 2008. She filed suit against the school after she was rejected, arguing the university's consideration of race didn't meet standards previously set by the Supreme Court.

UT-Austin has said that, based on her academic performance in high school, Fisher would not have been admitted whether race was a factor in the decision or not. Whether she suffered the sort of harm that would be sufficient grounds for a lawsuit has also been in question. More broadly, UT-Austin has said that its current admissions policies are necessary to help the university create a more diverse student body, wrote the San Marcus Mercury News

SEE ALSO: Affirmative Action Still Very Necessary

While the university admits most of its students under race-neutral criteria, accepting all Texas students who fall into the "Top 10 percent" law, UT also uses a race-conscious system as a supplement.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, writing that she would affirm the Fifth Circuit's ruling that upheld the Texas program. "The University's admissions policy flexibly considers race only as a 'factor of a factor of a factor of a factor' in the calculus," she wrote. Justice Elena Kagan, meanwhile, recused herself from the case.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Asutin,
which was first argued before the court in October, is considered a major opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to make an overarching rule on affirmative action. The court will take up another affirmative action case next year.

Read more at CBS News.

Read more of Neon Tommy's affirmative action coverage



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