Texas v. Lesage

PETITIONER: Texas
RESPONDENT: Lesage
LOCATION: US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

DOCKET NO.: 98-1111
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 528 US 18 (1999)
DECIDED: Nov 29, 1999

Facts of the case

Francois Daniel Lesage, an African immigrant of Caucasian descent, was denied admission to the University of Texas Ph.D. program in counseling psychology for the 1996-1997 academic year. Subsequently, Lesage filed suit, alleging that by establishing and maintaining a race-conscious admissions process the university had violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and various federal civil rights statutes. The university did not dispute that it considered the race of its applicants at some stage during the review process. The university argued that Lesage was unqualified for admission. Granting the university summary judgment, the District Court concluded that considerations of race had no effect on the Lesage's rejection. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that summary judgment was inappropriate because there remained a factual dispute as to whether the stage of review during which Lesage's application was eliminated was in some way race conscious.

Question

Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that the University of Texas was not entitled to summary judgment for its rejection of an African immigrant Ph.D. applicant of Caucasian descent even if he would have been rejected under a race-neutral policy?