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Fisher v. University of Texas - Background

In 2003, the United States Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admission policy of the University of Michigan School of Law in Grutter v. Bollinger.

The Grutter decision prompted the trustees of the University of Texas at Austin, the leading public university in that state, to adopt its own version of an admissions program for undergraduates, with race as a contributing though not controlling factor. A young white woman from Sugar Land, Texas - Abigail Fisher - applied for admission as a first-year student in the fall of 2008 when that policy was in effect. As a resident of Texas, she would have been admitted automatically if she had finished her high school career in the top ten percent of her class, but she did not. Ms. Fisher sued the University after she was denied admission, alleging that the "Top Ten Percent Plan" had filled more than eighty-five percent of the available slots in the entering freshman class, so Ms. Fisher was competing for admission with a much smaller group, where she was disadvantaged because of her race. The U.S. District Court sided with the university, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed. In rejecting Ms. Fisher's challenge, the three-judge Circuit Court found that the University had correctly applied the constitutional standards that the Supreme Court had fashioned in Grutter. Subsequently, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to hear the appeal of the Fifth Circuit decision. Oral arguments were held October 10, 2012.

Our Position

Equality in higher education is a cause that affects the members of NBLSA directly, and therefore, it is our responsibility to answer the call of fighting to ensure that the policy at the University of Texas at Austin and public universities around the country are conscious of making college education available to minority students. As law students, NBLSA is committed to advocating for equality in access to higher education which will combat the historically low numbers of minority lawyers in the field.

The Facts:

  • The primary purpose of race-conscious admissions programs is to benefit the larger educational community and society as a whole.
  • Race-conscious admissions benefit the individual student as well as the larger educational community, causing no harm, but instead creating great benefit to a diversified college campus.
  • Contrary to myth, Black students accepted to top-tier and flagship educational institutions graduate at high rates and move on to have successful and distinguished careers.
  • Access to top-tier law schools is important to maintaining integration in the legal profession.
  • Race-conscious admissions programs have not been found to create stigma for minority students.
  • The elimination of race-conscious programs will accelerate rather than ameliorate the effects of stereotypes upon Blacks and Latinos in the community at large.
  • Assertions that limiting the number of minority students on college campuses would improve cross-racial interactions is akin to racial tokenism.

How NBLSA Has Become Involved

Amicus Brief

NBLSA submitted a brief as amicus curiae in support of Respondents, urging the Supreme Court to affirm the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding the race-conscious admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin ("UT Austin"). Click here to read the brief!

Day of Action Opportunity Rally

NBLSA joined in collaboration with the Leadership Council to mobilize in support of Fisher v. Texas for an event entitled: Day of Action for Opportunity. Members of NBLSA will hold rallies around the country in solidarity with the "Day of Action for Opportunity" rally , held at the U.S. Supreme Court on October 10, 2012, in support of the affirmative action policy before the court.

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