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U.S. Supreme Court Cites Olshan Brief in Fisher Decision on Affirmative Action

June 29, 2016

On Thursday, June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Fisher v. University of Texas, and ruled 4-3 reaffirming the rights of academic institutions to pursue racial diversity as part of their educational mission. The litigation was  brought as a reverse discrimination case by two Texans who claimed that they had been denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin because they were white. A group of private universities focused on promoting higher education in the STEMS fields, California Institute of Technology, Rice University, University of Rochester, Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon, George Washington University, Case Western Reserve University, Emory University, Washington University and Tulane University, retained Olshan to submit an amicus curiae brief in support of the University of Texas that described their holistic admissions practices, in which race is considered as one of many other factors in the overall admissions calculus that each school undertakes in creating its student body. Our clients’ brief was cited and quoted by the Court for the proposition that many excellent schools have abandoned reliance on the Scholastic Assessment Test in favor of a more substantive approach to identifying quality students. The Court’s opinion was authored by Justice Kennedy, who was widely considered the Court’s swing vote. The brief was written by Olshan partners Ellen Holloman, Jeremy King and Kyle Bisceglie.

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