High court sends back Texas race-based plan - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

High court sends back Texas race-based plan

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Plaintiff Abigail Fisher Plaintiff Abigail Fisher

The Supreme Court sidesteps the use of affirmative action in college admissions. The high court kicked Fisher vs. The University of Texas at Austin back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a seven - one decision, the Supreme Court said the lower court did not adequately "hold the university to the demanding burden of strict scrutiny." The decision is the latest action of a five year long lawsuit. 

In 2008, Abigail Fisher, a white Austinite, sued UT after it denied her admission. She says the decision was unfairly based on race because less qualified minorities were admitted.

Right now, UT uses race as a factor for admission in about a quarter of the incoming freshmen for those who don't qualify for the top eight percent rule. Plaintiff supporters say this is a win for their side.

"This is a win. There's no other way to look at it," said Edward Blum, Director of Project for Fair Representation.

Blum says he doesn't think race will be used as a factor for college admission much longer.

"Those schools that are using race preferences now are put on notice that they had best end those practices and attempt to find some other race neutral means of achieving diversity," said Blum.

Blum was with Fisher, the plaintiff.

"I'm grateful to the Justices for moving the nation closer to a day where students' race isn't used at all in college admissions," said Fisher.

They aren't the only ones feeling good about this case. The other side, the defendants, are also pleased. UT President, Bill Powers, says he's heartened by the Supreme Court decision.

"This 7-1 ruling represents a positive outcome for this university, for the state, and for the nation," said Powers.

Powers says the decision will allow colleges to keep using race as a factor for admissions. Even though Fisher and her team say using race is illegal and time is running out on using that standard. Students have mixed reaction.

"Race kind of needs to be the card you should no longer play in my opinion," said Hailey Stephensens, UT Senior.

"There was a lot of talk that this would be the death nail to affirmative action or the end to the way we do admissions here and clearly that is not the case," said Andrew Clark, UT President of Senate College Councils.

Fisher currently lives and works in Austin. She's a financial analyst for Xerox. She graduated from Louisiana State University.

UT says the Supreme Court ruling doesn't affect the decisions they have made this year and 2014 or its recruitment of the 2017 freshman class.

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