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Fifth Circuit Ruling Advances Principles of Diversity in Higher Education

Jul 16, 2014
July 16, 2014
CONTACT: Kelsey Crow
202-499-7027 x. 107
Fifth Circuit Ruling Advances Principles of Diversity
in Higher Education
WASHINGTON—Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) applauds the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit's decision upholding the University of Texas at Austin's (UT-Austin) holistic race-conscious admissions program used to admit a portion of its undergraduate class. The Court in Fisher v. University of Texas, considering the case on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, re-evaluated the program and found that its limited use of race was necessary to achieve diversity.  
"Like all of the unique factors in students' backgrounds, race matters — including for Asian Americans, who are a broadly diverse group ourselves," said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Advancing Justice | AAJC. "The Court rightly concluded that denying the university its ability to consider race among all of these other factors would 'hobble the richness' of the educational experience created by a diverse student body." 
In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed its prior rulings recognizing that universities may consider race as one of many factors to further a compelling state interest in educational diversity, but the Court sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit to take a closer look at whether UT-Austin's race-conscious admissions policy was necessary to achieve the educational benefits of diversity. 
"We applaud the Fifth Circuit for upholding UT-Austin's consideration of race as one factor in its holistic review process and recognizing that such consideration is necessary to achieve the multi-faceted diversity that the University seeks," said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice | Los Angeles.
The overwhelming majority of students at UT-Austin are admitted through the state's "Top Ten Percent Plan," which admits Texas applicants solely on their rank in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The Fifth Circuit emphasized that the affirmative action component is a complementary plan and is "not about quotas or targets, but about its focus upon individuals," which the other plan does not allow. 
Advancing Justice filed an amicus brief before the Fifth Circuit in November 2013 in support of diversity and addressing how UT-Austin's holistic admissions program benefits Asian Americans students.