UT sued again for affirmative action policy by architect of Fisher case

Albert Zhao

Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions and the self-described “architect” of the Fisher v. University of Texas case, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against UT for the University’s affirmative action policies.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Students for Fair Admissions, said UT violated the Texas Constitution because affirmative action breaches the Texas Equal Rights Amendment, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex, race, color, creed or national origin.”

UT’s current policy automatically admits three-fourths of the entering freshmen class based on class ranking, while the remaining applicants are subjected to a holistic review process that factors in ethnicity.

It’s been a year since the Fisher ruling upheld UT’s use of affirmative action. Blum said recently rejected SFFA members from UT played a role in the timing of the new lawsuit but did not elaborate, and referred back to the organization's press release.

“It is our belief that the Texas Constitution unequivocally forbids UT-Austin from treating applicants differently because of their race and ethnicity,” Blum said in the press release. “We believe that most Texas judges and justices will agree with our interpretation of the Texas Constitution.”

Maurie McInnis, UT executive vice president and provost, defended UT’s affirmative action policies and emphasized the university’s goal for diversity in a statement.

“UT Austin uses race and ethnicity as one factor in our holistic admissions process,” McInnis said. “The policy is narrowly tailored. It complies with state and federal law and the Texas and US Constitutions and has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.”

The suit argues UT provides admission preference for minorities of African-American and Hispanic descent but consequently excludes Asian applicants.

“UT Austin deemed Asians ‘overrepresented’ based on state demographics,” the suit argues. “At the same time, UT Austin continued to recognize Asians as a minority in its diversity statistics, marketing materials and in analyzing classroom diversity.”

McInnis said the University has yet to receive a new lawsuit challenging its use of affirmative action, but will “respond through the formal legal channels” if a notification is received.