The Court did not reach the merits of the case, as the entire opinion dealt with how the Fifth Circuit did not properly analyze UT’s admissions program under strict scrutiny analysis. The Fifth Circuit had instead answered the question of whether UT had taken a serious, good faith consideration before resorting to using race as a factor in admissions. The Supreme Court stressed how this was not the test, and instead the Fifth Circuit should have looked at whether UT’s actions were narrowly tailored to further a compelling interest. Thus the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court opinion.
Fisher I did reaffirm that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment permitted the consideration of race in undergraduate admissions decisions, albeit only if the admissions process can withstand strict scrutiny. In Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, he cites several previous Supreme Court cases, some dealing with affirmative action and others with the Equal Protection clause more generally, that all showed how the Court subjects any kind of racial classification to the most rigid scrutiny. Thus, racial diversity continued to be a compelling governmental interest and race could be used in the admissions process to reach that goal, but only after properly proving that the admissions process is narrowly tailored to reach that goal.