Over the dissents of five judges, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit refused on Wednesday to rehear the sequel of the University of Texas affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The order is here. That decision, supported by ten judges, leaves intact a divided three-judge panel ruling upholding some use of race in selecting the university’s incoming freshman classes. The panel ruled after the Supreme Court ordered it to take a new look.
A statement by the organization that has arranged Abigail Fisher’s challenge, indicating that the case will be taken back to the Supreme Court, is here. Ms. Fisher sued the flagship university after being denied admission; she claimed her rejection was due to her race — she is white.
After a Fifth Circuit panel had upheld the university’s first-year admissions program, which made some use of race, the case went to the Supreme Court. The Justices overturned that decision, finding that the university had not given an adequate justification for the role that race had played in the process.
The Fifth Circuit panel upheld the plan again in July, and Ms. Fisher pursued en banc review by the full Fifth Circuit. The majority of ten judges did not explain their refusal to vote for further review. Circuit Judge Emilio M. Garza, who had dissented from the panel decision, wrote a one-page opinion dissenting from the denial of en banc review. He referred mainly to his prior dissent.
He was joined in dissent by Circuit Judges Edith Brown Clement, Edith H. Jones, Priscilla R. Owen, and Jerry E. Smith.
It is doubtful that the new case will reach the Supreme Court in time to be decided in the current Term, even if review is granted. Ms. Fisher has ninety days to file for review.