That leaves the possibility of a 4-4 ruling, meaning Fisher would not prevail, but leaving undecided the larger constitutional questions presented.
The University of Texas proudly touts its diversity: The most recent freshman class is about 46 percent white, 25 percent Hispanic, 18 percent Asian, and 5 percent African-American.
Some states, including California, do not allow race considerations in college admissions.
The issue now before an arguably more conservative high court is whether the Texas policies should be re-evaluated, as states have had nearly a decade to re-evaluate such diversity considerations.
Impact of Sweatt
A final word about Sweatt. When the Houston mailman applied to the University of Texas in 1946, no African-American at the time could be admitted to any law school in the state, and there were even no black-only law schools.
School administrators cited the established white-only policies for their rejection and instead offered Sweatt an out-of-state scholarship.
He refused and took his case to court.
The high court unanimously found in favor of Sweatt and he became the first African-American ever ordered admitted to an all-white institution.
His legal victory was an important legal landmark-- a building block that culminated three years later in the 1953 Brown v. Board case, where the justices ordered a permanent end to state-mandated public, racial segregation.
Sweatt's personal victory was bittersweet. He entered the UT law school, but later dropped out, following ill health as well as hostility from white classmates. He died in 1982, and the Travis County civil courthouse in Austin was renamed in his honor.
The current case is Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (11-345).