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Appeals Court Upholds U. Of Texas Affirmative Action Policy

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s consideration of race in admissions.

The ruling came in a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that public colleges could consider race in admissions, but only under strict conditions. Critics of affirmative action have hoped that those conditions were sufficiently narrow that when the appeals court took another look at UT-Austin’s admissions policies, they would not meet those tests.

But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found, 2 to 1, that the Texas program is legal. The challenge to Texas was based in large part on the use of the “10 percent” plan, which guarantees the top graduates of every high school a spot at UT-Austin (or any other public college). Because many Texas high schools are segregated, this system results in the admission of black and Latino students — and the challenge to UT-Austin’s consideration of race said that with a percent plan, there was no need to go further.