The case was filed by Abigail Fisher, a white student who blames affirmative action for not being admitted into Austin. Fisher gained prominence because her case made it up to the US Supreme Court, before the high court kicked it back down to the lower court.
In ruling in favor of the University in a 2-1 ruling, the majority acknowledged they were straddling the line between quotas and desired results.
“The backdrop of our efforts here includes the reality that accepting as permissible policies whose purpose is to achieve a desired racial effect taxes the line between quotas and holistic use of race toward a critical mass. We have hewed this line here,” Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote for the majority. “To reject the UT Austin plan is to confound developing principles of neutral affirmative action.”
The dissenting judge, however, argued UT failed to meet the strict standard for such programs.
“Because the university has not defined its diversity goal in any meaningful way — instead, reflexively reciting the term ‘critical mass’ — it is altogether impossible to determine whether its use of racial classifications is narrowly tailored,” Circuit Judge Emilio Garza wrote.
You can read reaction to the Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Politico.