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Medical education

Fisher v. University of Texas, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 13461 (5th Cir. 2014)

133 S.Ct. 2411 (2013)

Also under Civil Rights

Outcome:   Favorable

Issue

The principal issue in this case was whether the University of Texas could consider the race of applicants as an explicit factor in determining qualifications for admission.

AMA interest

The AMA believes that diversity, including racial diversity, is a vital component of a successful medical education.

Case summary

Abigail Fisher, who was white, applied to but was rejected from the University of Texas undergraduate college.  She then sued the university, asserting that the school preferred African-American students over whites and that she would have been accepted if the racial preferences had not been in place.  The Court of Appeals ruled against her, and she appealed to the Supreme Court.

On June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded by a split decision.  It held that the University of Texas could have a compelling interest in considering racial composition to promote a diverse student body.  However, such interest would be subject to strict scrutiny from the judicial system.  The University, on remand, would have to prove that the interest was indeed compelling and there was no feasible way to promote student diversity other than through racial preferences.

On July 15, 2014, by a split decision, the Fifth Circuit on remand upheld the admissions program of the University of Texas.  This decision was made without further fact-finding by the district court.

AMA involvement

The AMA, along with the American Association of Medical Colleges and numerous other organizations, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of the University of Texas.

United States Supreme Court brief

Kashmiri v. University of California

156 Cal. App. 4th 809 (Cal. App. 2007)

Outcome:    Very favorable

Issue
The issue in this case was whether the University of California (UC) breached a contract with its students by raising fees after it explicitly promised students otherwise.

AMA interest
The AMA supports financial accessibility of medical education to qualified candidates.

Case summary
This class action, filed by and on behalf of UC professional (including medical) students, alleged that UC breached a contractual obligation, under which it promised that professional students’ tuition fees would not be increased during their enrollment.  The trial court entered judgment in favor of the students, and the University appealed.  The California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment and ordered that UC pay the costs of appeal.  The California Supreme Court denied UC's petition for review.

Litigation Center involvement
The Litigation Center filed an amicus brief in support of the students in the Court of Appeal.  The brief emphasized the crushing financial burdens entailed by a medical education and the disincentives aspiring medical students face if they are required to assume not only the tuition and other expenses determined as of the time they entered school but also subsequent increases. 

California Court of Appeal brief