Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court side-stepped a sweeping decision on the use of race-conscious school admission policies, ruling Monday on the criteria at the University of Texas and whether it violates the equal protection rights of some white applicants.
The justices threw the case back to the lower courts for further review.
The court affirmed the use of race in the admissions process, but makes it harder for institutions to use such policies to achieve diversity. The 7-1 decision from the court avoids the larger constitutional issues.
Abigail Noel Fisher individually sued the flagship state university after her college application was rejected in 2008 when she was a high school senior in Sugar Land, Texas. She claims it was because she is white, and that she was being treated differently than some less-qualified minority students who were accepted.
The school defends its policy of considering race as one of many factors -- such as test scores, community service, leadership, and work experience-- designed to create a diverse campus.
The case is Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (11-345).