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Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 24, 2013
Case #: 11-345
Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., and Thomas, J., filed concurring opinions. Ginsburg, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Kagan, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-345_l5gm.pdf

Constitutional Law: The Fifth Circuit erred by not applying strict scrutiny as articulated in Grutter and Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U. S. 265.

Respondent considers race as one of many factors in granting admission. Petitioner was denied admission and brought suit under the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Respondent.

The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court held that Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), required courts to give substantial deference to universities in the definition of the compelling interest in diversity and also in deciding whether the university's plan was narrowly tailored.

The Supreme Court vacated, remanded, and held that the question of Respondent's compelling interest in diversity was properly granted deference, but the question of narrow-tailoring must be addressed judicially. In Grutter, the Court placed the burden on universities to demonstrate that admissions procedures "ensure that each applicant is evaluated as an individual and not in a way that makes an applicant's race or ethnicity the defining feature of his or her application."  Grutter 539 U.S. at 337. Therefore it is the responsibility of the courts to determine that a university's racial considerations are narrowly tailored.