In a 4-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the University of Texas' affirmative action program. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case because she worked on the suit as a solicitor general, thereby eliminating the possibility of a tie following the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
In the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, Abigail Fisher, who is white, alleged that her application to the University of Texas at Austin was rejected due to her race. The school has a race-neutral standard of admitting the state's top 10 percent of students from local schools as well as a race-conscious program that considers the racially-segregated nature of schools in Texas.
Back in 2013, SCOTUS decided to send the case involving the University of Texas at Austin's race-conscious admissions policy back to a lower court for a second look, saying the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans did not scrutinize the school's admissions practices hard enough.
This time around, the nation's high court upheld the program, stating that Fisher was not denied equal treatment at the time that her application was rejected, meaning her lawsuit did not meet the grounds of discrimination under which the case was filed. The court also decided that affirmative action programs will need to be narrowly focused and for the benefit of educational purposes, not just for the pursuit of a diverse environment.