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Appeals court to hear arguments from affirmative action case tomorrow

On Nov. 13 at the Homer Thornberry Judicial Building in Austin, lawyers will present their oral arguments to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals about whether universities should keep the consideration of race and ethnicity in college acceptance standards.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from lawyers in the affirmative action case involving Abigail Fisher and The University of Texas at Austin at the Homer Thornberry Judicial Building tomorrow, Nov. 13 at 3:15 p.m. to decide whether race should be a factor in college admissions settings.

The U.S. Supreme Court reported on its official blog on Sept. 12, that the “process of deciding how to react to the Supreme Court’s skeptical new view of the use of race in college admissions” had started. According to the article, the court of appeals sent lawyers a briefing order to the lawyers involved in the case to be addressed throughout early October and November. The order provided seven questions that the courts saw as essential issues to be addressed by both sides during the appeal process.

The list of questions is as follows:

(1) Should the court in its discretion remand to the district court for further proceedings?

(2) Should any remand to the district court be accompanied by instruction from this court?

(3) If this court elects to not remand how ought it apply strict scrutiny as directed by the Supreme Court on the record now before it?

(4) Are there remaining questions of standing?

(5) Is the University due any deference in its decision that “critical mass” has not been achieved?

(6) Has the University achieved “critical mass”? If your answer is yes, please explain when it did. If your answer is no, please explain when it is likely to do so, should the Grutter plan remain in place.

(7) What workable alternatives to the use of race were available to the University that were not being deployed?

Earlier this year in June, The U.S. Supreme Court laid down a 7-1 decision to send the affirmative action case down to the lower courts for additional review, stating in its opinion that lower courts had not held UT’s use of affirmative action to the standard of “strict scrutiny.” The Horn reported Jun. 28 that several chairs of various ethnic studies departments at UT had responded favorably to the supreme court’s ruling in June.

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