Appeals court reaffirms affirmative action decision

AUSTIN -- A Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans once again ruled in favor of the University of Texas' affirmative action admissions policy in a 2-1 decision.

The appeals court reheard arguments in the case, which challenges UT's admissions policy, but they reached the same conclusion: Affirmative action is constitutional.

FULL DECISION: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmative action decision

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal appeals court in New Orleans didn't apply "strict scrutiny" when making its initial decision to uphold UT's admissions policy, which allows the use of race as a factor in college admissions.

The 7-1 Supreme Court ruling came in June 2013 in the case of Abigail Fisher, a white Texas student who was not offered admission to UT Austin in 2008. Fisher claimed the affirmative action policy was the reason she didn't get admitted.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the Supreme Court's 2013 decision, said courts must determine if race is necessary in achieving the educational benefits of diversity on college and university campuses.

The affirmative action policy at UT uses race as one of many factors when admitting about a quarter of the university's incoming freshman.

Fisher's attorneys said they plan to appeal Tuesday's ruling.

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers released the following statement Tuesday after the court's ruling:

"We are very pleased with the Court's ruling recognizing the constitutionality of the University's admissions policy under the Supreme Court's recent guidance. We remain committed to assembling a student body at The University of Texas at Austin that brings with it the educational benefits of diversity while respecting the rights of all students. This ruling ensures that our campus, our state and the entire nation will benefit from the exchange of ideas and thoughts that happens when students who are diverse in all regards come together in the classroom, at campus events and in all aspects of campus life."


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