In 1997, the Texas legislature enacted a law requiring the University of Texas to admit all high school seniors who ranked in the top ten percent of their high school classes. After finding differences between the racial and ethnic makeup of the university's undergraduate population and the state's population, the University of Texas decided to modify its race-neutral admissions policy. The new policy continued to admit all in-state students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school classes. For the remainder of the in-state freshman class the university would consider race as a factor in admission. Abigail N. Fisher, a Caucasian female, applied for undergraduate admission to the University of Texas in 2008. Fisher was not in the top ten percent of her class, so she competed for admission with other non-top ten percent in-state applicants. The University of Texas denied Fisher's application. Fisher filed suit against the university and other related defendants, claiming that the University of Texas' use of race as a consideration in admission decisions was in violation of the equal protection cause of the Fourteenth Amendment and a violation of42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The university argued that its use of race was a narrowly tailored means of pursuing greater diversity. The district court decided in favor of the University of Texas, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. Fisher appealed the appellate court's decision.
In Fisher v Univ of Texas (2013), the Supreme Court established three principles: strict scrutiny of racial affirmative action in public university admissions; judicial deference to reasoned explanations of the decision to pursue student body racial diversity; and no judicial deference to determinations of whether the use of race in admissions is narrowly tailored. The court later held, in a second appeal in this case, that achieving racial diversity in the student body can be a compelling governmental interest.