Supreme Court to reconsider affirmative action in college admissions

Decision could bring more scrutiny to criteria

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will reconsider a 2013 ruling that made it harder for colleges to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. 

The case in question is Fisher v. the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. Specifically:

  • Abigail Fisher, a white woman rejected for admission at UT-Austin, sued the school, blaming its affirmative action policy for her rejection.
  • In 2013, the Supreme Court set stricter standards for applying affirmative action policies but did not ban them.
  • It also sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where the policy was upheld in 2014.

The case could have major implications for college admissions policies across the country. The appeals court's decision includes statements threatening one primary justification for affirmative action policies—the concept of a "critical mass" of minority students required to produce certain educational outcomes.

On a broader level, the case could bring more scrutiny to college admissions practices.

UT-Austin lawyers defended the school's policies and asked the court not to reconsider the case, in part because Fisher has already attended and graduated from another school, Louisiana State University.

The case will be argued this fall (Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 6/29; de Vogue, CNN, 6/29; Sherman, AP/ABC News, 6/29).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.


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