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Appeals court upholds UT’s admissions policy

Good.

In 1996, a federal appeals court effectively banned affirmative action in admissions at the University of Texas in a case known as Hopwood. On Tuesday, the same court reversed course, ruling that the university’s consideration of race and ethnicity passes constitutional muster.

What changed? In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld affirmative action at the University of Michigan’s law school, essentially setting aside the Hopwood ruling.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited the Michigan case in affirming a 2009 decision by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin to uphold UT’s admissions policy, which was challenged by two white students who were denied acceptance. The 5th Circuit judges, based in New Orleans, unanimously agreed with Sparks that the policy avoids quotas, is narrowly tailored and otherwise meets standards set by the high court in the Michigan case.

“We’re very pleased,” said Patti Ohlendorf, UT’s vice president for legal affairs. “The university always has maintained that our undergraduate admissions policy is constitutional and follows the guidance of the Supreme Court.”

It’s a lead pipe cinch that SCOTUS will be asked about this again eventually. The judge who wrote the majority opinion made it clear that what is ruled constitutional now may not be so later – he likened it to redistricting, which is both amusing and insightful. Another judge wrote in a concurring opinion that while UT met the standard set by SCOTUS, he believed SCOTUS got it wrong in its previous ruling. We’ll see how it goes from here. NewsTaco has more.

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