The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, et al. on Oct. 10, according to a court calendar posted July 23. On Feb. 21, the court announced that it would grant Abigail Fisher’s petition for writ of certiorari; Fisher claims she was denied admission to UT in 2008 and that racial considerations by UT admissions officials disadvantaged her.
In her merits brief to the high court, Fisher alleges that UT’s admissions policies — which take into account the race of applicants other than those automatically admitted because they were in the top 10 percent of their public high school class — violate the equal protection guarantee of the 14th Amendment. The "10 percent" plan began in 1998, and race was added as a "special circumstance" factor in 2004, after the high court issued its decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, permitting racial considerations in admissions for the purposes of achieving diversity at a public school, the University of Michigan School of Law.
In Fisher, UT defendants prevailed on Aug.7, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of the Western District of Texas in Austin. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his ruling on Jan. 18, 2011.
Fisher and 17 amici have submitted briefs to the high court on her behalf. The university defendants must file their merits brief by Aug. 6, and amici for the defendants must file their briefs by Aug. 13, according to the website for UT’s Vice President for Legal Affairs Pat Ohlendorf.
"We think our brief will cover the issues and be very persuasive," says Ohlendorf.
Bert Rein, a partner in Washington, D.C.'s Wiley Rein, who represents Fisher, says he "looks forward to reading it."
Latham & Watkins partners Gregory Garre and J. Scott Ballenger and of counsel Maureen Mahoney have been hired to represent the university
-- Miriam Rozen