A nonprofit group challenging racial and ethnic considerations in admissions at the University of Texas has withdrawn its effort to revive one lawsuit and instead told an appeals court that it plans to file a new case in state District Court in Travis County.
Students for Fair Admissions Inc. contends that UT is violating state law and the Texas Constitution by benefiting African American and Hispanic applicants at the expense of white and Asian applicants. The university says its consideration of race and ethnicity is narrowly tailored, as the U.S. Supreme Court requires, and complies with state and federal law as well as the Texas and U.S. Constitutions.
Judge Scott H. Jenkins of Travis County ruled in December and March that the group’s lawsuit was fatally flawed because the sole person put forward as a “standing member” fell into a category of applicants whose race and ethnicity were not considered for admissions purposes.
The student had applied to the Butler School of Music, part of UT’s College of Fine Arts, but her performance on the French horn at an audition was judged inadequate for admission.
“The Standing Member was never subjected to the holistic review process that SFFA challenges in this lawsuit,” Jenkins wrote. “Race played no role in the decision to deny admission.”
UT’s holistic reviews take race and ethnicity into account along with grades, essays, leadership qualities and numerous other factors.
Students for Fair Admissions appealed to the state’s 3rd Court of Appeals but subsequently asked that court to dismiss the appeal, explaining that it intends to file a new lawsuit in district court. The 3rd Court dismissed the appeal on Friday.
Edward Blum, a UT graduate and leader of Students for Fair Admissions, declined to discuss the timing and other details of the forthcoming lawsuit. The group likely will line up some unsuccessful applicants to UT who were subjected to the holistic review.
Students for Fair Admissions filed the now-defunct Travis County case in 2017, a year after the Supreme Court upheld UT’s consideration of race and ethnicity in undergraduate admissions by a 4-3 vote.
UT considers such factors for a relatively small fraction of its entering class, given that at least three-fourths of its freshmen from Texas get in under a state law that grants automatic admission based solely on their high school class rank. State law reserves 90% of UT’s freshman slots for state residents.
The case that went to the Supreme Court, Fisher v. UT, was organized by Blum, although the plaintiff was a white woman who had been denied admission.
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