The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of race as a factor in student admissions at the University of Texas.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the 4-3 ruling is considered a major victory for advocates of affirmative action.
The case arose from a complaint from Abigail Fisher, a white Houston-area student who contended in a lawsuit that her rejection from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 was unfair.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the the university's race-conscious admissions program complied with earlier court rulings allowing colleges to take account of race in pursuit of diversity on campus.
"The university has thus met its burden of showing that the admissions policy it used at the time it rejected [Fisher's] application was narrowly tailored," Kennedy wrote.
Fisher, in a written statement, said that she was “disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled that students applying to the University of Texas can be treated differently because of their race or ethnicity. I hope that the nation will one day move beyond affirmative action.”
Justices Ruth Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kennedy's opinion. Dissenting were Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because she worked on the case for the Justice Department before her court appointment.
The Associated Press reported that In his 51-page dissent, Alito characterized the University of Texas policy as "affirmative action gone wild." The university "relies on a series of unsupported and noxious racial assumptions," he said.
Fisher's suit had argued that denying her admission to the university was unfair because African-American applicants with lower grades and test scores were admitted.
The school asserted that Fisher, who did not graduate in the top 10 percent of her high school class, would not have been admitted with or without race as a factor. But officials said she could transfer to the University of Texas as a sophomore if she maintained a 3.2 grade point average at another public college in Texas.
Instead, Fisher attended Louisiana State University and graduated in 2012.