The case regarding a race-based plan at the University of Texas at Austin was brought by white student Abigail Fisher in 2008, who was denied admission. Fisher argued that the college discriminated against her on the basis of her race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The 7-1 ruling throws out the decision by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Texas admission plan, but it leaves unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the lone dissenter. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself, presumably because she had some contact with it at an earlier stage when she worked in the Justice Department.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, says a federal appeals court needs to subject the University of Texas admission plan to the highest level of judicial scrutiny.
Fisher has since received her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.