Earlier this week, UT President Gregory Fenves said the university stands by its policy.
“The university believes in and will defend our admissions process, which has not changed since the ruling,” he said in a statement.
Officials would not speculate Wednesday whether the university — one of a handful in Texas to use race as a consideration — would be at risk of legal action from the Trump administration.
In a court filing Monday, UT noted that the Students for Fair Admissions officers include former plaintiff Abigail Fisher and Edward Blum, a businessman and attorney who supported Fisher’s nearly eight-year legal battle after she was denied admission to the school.
“They cannot accept that each court in their prior litigation ruled against them and determined that UT may lawfully consider race as one of many factors–a ‘factor of a factor of a factor’… in seeking to foster a diverse student body, which benefits the education of all students,” according to the filing.
UT has repeatedly defended its policies using race as a factor. Most notably, the university lost a key battle in federal courts in 1996, which led to Texas public institutions abandoning affirmative action.
UT resumed using race as a limited factor for admissions in 2004 after a key ruling from the Supreme Court. The school then won two challenges from Fisher in the Supreme Court. Many Asian-American advocacy groups have filed briefs in support of UT’s policy.
The Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit against UT claims its admission policy violates the equal protection guaranteed in the Texas Constitution, an argument used in previous challenges. Representatives from the group could not be reached for comment.
The suit alleges that using race to admit students who are historically underrepresented on the campus is discrimination.
“Given the limited number of places in UT Austin’s freshmen class, granting a racial preference to African American and Hispanic applicants diminishes the chances of admissions for white and Asian applicants,” according to the lawsuit filing.
The state’s automatic admissions provision, as well as other efforts, have helped diversify the student enrollment at UT. But comparing the university’s enrollment with Texas public school enrollment shows Hispanic and black students remain underrepresented, while Asian and white students are over-represented.