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Supreme Court Sends Fisher v. UT Austin Back to Lower Court

image © Mark Fischer

In a decision issued Monday, June 24, the US Supreme Court avoided a final ruling in a closely watched case challenging the University of Texas’s consideration of race as part of its admissions policy. Instead, the court held that the Fifth Circuit had not applied the correct level of scrutiny to the policy.

In an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor, a majority of the court ordered the Fifth Circuit to rehear the challenge applying “strict scrutiny” to determine whether the policy was “narrowly tailored” to serve what the Supreme Court has repeatedly held to be a compelling state interest in ensuring a diverse student body at public universities. Justice Ginsburg dissented, saying the lower court’s scrutiny was adequate and the Supreme Court should have affirmed its decision upholding the policy. Justice Kagan recused herself due to her involvement in the case in her role as Solicitor General.

In August 2012, ARL joined an amicus brief (PDF) filed on behalf of 40 higher education associations in support of the University of Texas policy.

Read the full text (PDF) of the Supreme Court’s opinion (including concurrences from Justices Scalia and Thomas, as well as Justice Ginsburg’s dissent).

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.