Appeals court to hear arguments on whether or not University of Texas admissions policies violate the law
August 2, 2010
Is the University of Texas violating the law by considering race and ethnicity when it decides whom to admit to its freshman class?
That question will be debated Tuesday before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The case, filed in 2008 by two white students who were denied admission, is the first challenge of a university's affirmative action policies since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld affirmative action at the University of Michigan's law school in 2003.
"Our argument is relatively simple," said Edward Blum, director of the Washington-based Project on Fair Representation, which opposes the use of race in public policy and which is helping to pay the plaintiffs' legal bills. "We believe that the reintroduction of race and ethnicity in the admissions process by the University of Texas is unconstitutional and falls outside of the parameters where race is allowed to be used."
UT and the Texas attorney general's office, which is defending the university's policy, offer an equally straightforward defense.
"The university believes that its admission system is well within the guidance the Supreme Court has given us in the Grutter case," said Patti Ohlendorf , UT's vice president for legal affairs, referring to the Michigan ruling.