Fisher argued that UT did not meet the Court’s requirements on remand from Fisher I.
Diversity is a compelling interest for a state university. Means to achieving it be narrowly tailored.
In 1997, Texas enacted a law that guaranteed college admission to students who graduate from a Texas high school in the top 10% of their class. Up to 75% of the spots in Texas colleges are filled through this law, including at UT.
For the remaining 25%, UT evaluates applicants in a wholistic way on a combination of grades, test scores, and personal achievement index (including race). Admissions officers can consider race as a positive feature for minority applications.
Fisher was not in the top 10% of her high school class, so she was evaluated through the wholistic review. Her application was rejected.
Fisher I set forth three principles: 1.) race cannot be considered by a university unless the admissions process can withstand strict scrutiny; 2.) the decision to pursue a diverse student body is appropriate for a university but is subject to judicial review; 3.) a university bears the burden of showing that their policy is narrowly tailored.
Is UT’s admissions policy constitutional?
Yes, it is.
A State’s use of race in higher education is categorically prohibited by Equal Protection. Classifications based on race are unconstitutional, full stop.
Justice Alito (with Roberts and Thomas)
Fisher 1 mandated that UT needed to pass strict scrutiny by showing compelling interests and that its plan is narrowly tailored. UT failed to show that it met this bar. It is relying on its desire for diversity to ask for deference.
There is an ongoing obligation to satisfy strict scrutiny. Diversity qualifies as a compelling state interest, but it cannot be achieved through quotas. UT provided principled explanations for its decision to pursue diversity. UT also did extensive studies on whether the 10% policy was working to achieve diversity and found that it was not. Finally, they have demonstrated that it is narrowly tailored; race is a small portion of the holistic review.