NEW ORLEANS, July 16 (UPI) -- The University of Texas at Austin can consider the race of applicants "as part of a holistic admissions program," a divided federal appeals court ruled.
In its 2-1 decision Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit in New Orleans once again rejected a lawsuit brought by Abigail Fisher. Fisher, a white woman, charged that the university, when it rejected her in 2008, violated her 14th Amendment right to equal protection.
"To deny UT Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience," Judge Patrick Higginbotham, a senior judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan, said. "Universities may use race as part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity. This interest is compelled by the reality that university education is more the shaping of lives than the filling of heads with facts -- the classic assertion of the humanities."
Fisher had already lost one appeal to the 5th Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-1 ruling, said last year that universities could consider race as an admissions factor if it was needed to get a diverse student body and returned the case to the lower court.
Fisher's lawyer said she is planning another appeal to the Supreme Court.