The University of Texas has lined up a private lawyer to defend its admissions program before the U.S. Supreme Court instead of state Attorney General Greg Abbott and his lawyers.
UT's use of affirmative action, as one of many factors in deciding whom to admit, will be defended by a team led by Gregory Garre, a former U.S. solicitor general who has argued more than 30 cases before the high court. Garre and the other outside lawyers are with the Washington office of the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP.
Bill Powers, the UT president, sought permission to hire outside counsel, and the attorney general's office agreed to step aside, Daniel Hodge, first assistant attorney general, said Thursday.
The state office's decision does not indicate any lack of zeal to represent UT, Hodge said, noting that it has thus far successfully defended the admissions program, including at a federal appeals court in New Orleans.