Students for Fair Admissions vs. University of Texas at Austin
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is representing a group of African American, Asian American, and Latinx students, student organizations, and the Texas NAACP to demonstrate how the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy promotes cross-racial understanding, helps to break down racial stereotypes, and empowers the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse society. The anti-affirmative action group Student for Fair Admissions has filed a lawsuit against UT and the policy on behalf of two white students.
The race-conscious admissions policy allows UT-Austin and other institutions to cultivate diverse campus environments that help students bridge racial divides, increase cross-cultural understanding, and prepare for leadership in a diverse and pluralistic society.
Case Timeline and Key Documents
January 14, 2021
The court issues its order granting the national Lawyers’ Committee intervention, finding that the intervenors demonstrated that UT-Austin would not adequately represent their interests and that their defense was necessary to protect their critical interests in the benefits of student body diversity.
January 5, 2021
The court issues its scheduling order governing discovery and pretrial proceedings and sets a bench trial for Sept. 12, 2022.
December 17, 2020
The national Lawyers’ Committee and co-counsel file a petition to intervene on behalf of three organizations and eight students. These students identify as MexicanA merican, Black Americans, Latinx and Asian American and stand together in support of inclusive policies that make UT-Austin and colleges across the country more racially diverse and equitable. If permitted to intervene by the court, the students intend to highlight how UT-Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy is necessary to counteract biases against students of color, how race plays an integral role in their identity and experiences and how meaningful representation of certain racial and ethnic groups has not yet been achieved at UT-Austin. The students will also discuss the support systems that have been developed at the university as a result of the policies that promote racial diversity.
July 20, 2020
SFFA files a new lawsuit in the Federal District court for the Western District of Texas brought on behalf of two white students. The new lawsuit similarly targets UT’s holistic, race-conscious admissions program, and largely rehashes the same arguments as in state court but also raises federal claims. SFFA also seeks to prohibit admissions officers from becoming aware of any student applicant’s race.
July 9, 2020
SFFA voluntarily dismisses its state-based lawsuit challenge to UT’s race-conscious admissions policy.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and co-counsel Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP and Bernabei & Kabat PPLC file a petition to intervene on behalf of students to defend the race-conscious admissions policy. The group of intervenors include African American, Asian American, and Latinx students. The students also submit written declarations to the Texas state court, sharing how their racial backgrounds are integral to understanding their full identities and outline the many benefits of racial diversity in UT-Austin’s academic and wider campus environment.
May 16, 2019
Anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum and his organization, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), file a lawsuit in Travis County state court. The lawsuit targets the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) holistic, race-conscious admissions program that considers race and ethnicity as “a factor of a factor of a factor” in its comprehensive review to promote greater diversity within, and across, racial groups on campus. As recently as 2016, in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (a lawsuit also supported by Blum), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld UT-Austin’s race-conscious policy on the grounds that it “‘promotes cross-racial understanding, helps to break down racial stereotypes, and enables students to better understand persons of different races.’”