A coalition of higher education associations is backing the University of Texas at Austin's defense of its affirmative action policies. The university was sued based on its success in attracting minority students during the period that it was barred from using affirmative action. Opponents of affirmative action said that this success demonstrated that affirmative action wasn't necessary and therefore didn't meet legal tests to justify it. But a judge last year rejected that legal argument and said that Texas was within its rights to use a variety of tactics -- including affirmative action -- to promote diversity. The backing from national higher education groups isn't surprising, since all of those involved are on record backing the use of affirmative action. "[T]his case implicates principles of academic freedom and the ability of an institution of higher education to assemble a student body which best serves its identity and mission," says the brief filed by the organizations. "Many colleges and universities have decided that the admission of a racially and ethnically diverse student body will serve their individual educational missions."