The Supreme Court says it will dive back into the fight over the use of race in admissions at the University of Texas, a decision that presages tighter limits on affirmative action in higher education. The justices said today they'll hear for a second time the case of a white woman who was denied admission to the university's flagship Austin campus. The conservative-leaning federal appeals court in New Orleans has twice upheld the university's admissions process, including in a ruling last year that followed a Supreme Court order to reconsider the woman's case. The case began in 2008 when Abigail Fisher, who is white, was denied admission to the Austin campus because she didn't graduate in the top 10% of her high school class—the criterion for 75% of the school's admissions.
The university also passed her over for a position among the remaining 25%, which is reserved for special scholarships and people who meet a formula for personal achievement that includes race as a factor. The case went to the US Supreme Court in June 2013. But rather than issue a landmark decision on affirmative action, it voted 7-1 to tell a lower appeals court to take another look at the lawsuit by Fisher, who has since graduated from Louisiana State University. That meant the university's admissions policies remained unchanged. Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit again upheld the university's admissions policy. Justice Elena Kagan is not taking part in the case, which will be argued in the fall. She sat out the first round as well, presumably because of her work on the case when she served in the Justice Department before joining the court. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)