The Supreme Court revisited today Fisher v. University of Texas, an affirmative action case that was first considered by the court in 2013. SCOTUS declined then to make a definitive ruling about the constitutionality of UT’s admissions policy—in which race is considered a factor—and instead sent the case back to a lower court.
The case itself, however, is tortured: Plaintiff Abigail Fisher, a white student who says UT-Austin denied her admission in 2008 because of affirmative action, was actually denied because she straight-up wasn’t qualified. UT-Austin’s admissions office already admits the top 10 percent of students at high schools across Texas before considering any “personal circumstances” like race. Fisher was not in the top 10 percent of her class—she simply didn’t make the cut.
And so as The New York Times points out, the “idiosyncrasies” in this case may limit its reach. But SCOTUS has the capacity to at least decrease diversity at UT, should it decide to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decision. As 538 notes, the most recent data from the Department of Education and the Census Bureau shows that “black and Hispanic students are still vastly underrepresented” at public research universities, and “they fare even worse in states with bans on affirmative action.”