PLF statement on Supreme Court’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Supreme Court tells Fifth Circuit to give UT-Austin’s policies much more demanding review

(Pacific Legal Foundation submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Fisher case, in opposition to the race-based preferences in the University of Texas-Austin’s admissions program.)

June 24, 2013 — Pacific Legal Foundation Principal Attorney Meriem L. Hubbard issued this statement today on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Fisher:

“The Supreme Court rightly ruled that tax-supported universities don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt from courts when they engage in race-based preferences and discrimination,” said PLF Principal Attorney Meriem Hubbard.   “Instead, the High Court insisted on much tougher scrutiny for the University of Texas-Austin than the lower courts have given it so far, because the university is basing admissions decisions, at least in part, on students’ skin color.  The Court’s decision to send the case back for a more demanding review by the Fifth Circuit is bad news for UT-Austin.  The university’s practice of color-coding admissions applicants, and giving preferences based on race, simply isn’t needed for the university’s claimed purpose of achieving a racially diverse student body.  In fact, when the university was employing only race-neutral admissions policies – such as offering admission to the top 10 percent of Texas high-school graduates – the entering classes were notably diverse.  So it wasn’t necessary for the university to start playing favorites on the basis of race and ethnicity.

“Nevertheless, the use of race in admissions, for any purpose or rationale, squarely conflicts with the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection of the law,” Hubbard continued.   “The Court didn’t directly address the precedents that have permitted such discrimination, so the battle to have those misguided decisions reconsidered – and reversed – will continue.   Under a proper reading of the Equal Protection Clause, treating students unequally because of their skin color can’t be permitted.   Not only is it wrong in a moral and constitutional sense to discriminate because of skin color, it’s also a faulty formula for genuine diversity within a student body.   Instead of assessing students on their individual achievements, experiences and perspectives, it stereotypes them by color.  Advocates of equal rights and equal opportunities will continue their fight in the courts, to ensure that admissions officers can’t pick and choose by race.   Under our Constitution – and basic common sense – public universities can’t be allowed to deny any student, of any background, the ‘the equal protection of the laws.’ ”