The U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the University of Texas' use of race in deciding admissions, sending the case back to a lower court for reconsideration.
Monday's 7-1 decision overturns a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of UT's plan.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the 5th Circuit did not evaluate the UT admissions process against the standards established in a 2003 Supreme Court decision permitting affirmative action in higher education.
The lone dissenter, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the 5th Circuit correctly applied the relevant laws and jurisprudence.
The case originated in 2008 with a suit on behalf of Abigail Noel Fisher, a white applicant who did not gain acceptance to UT.
Under state law, students in the top 10 percent of the graduating class in every Texas high school have an automatic entitlement to attend UT.
Fisher was not among the top 10 percent at her school and fell into another group of applicants in which qualifications and other aspects such as race are weighed.
The case had raised a lot of expectations, given that a hypothetical decision favorable to the plaintiff by the Supreme Court could have meant the annulment of affirmative action programs in force at universities around the country, but sending it back to a lower court dispels that possibility. EFE