The Supreme Court has issued a 7-1 ruling in the latest case involving affirmative action in higher education. The court reversed the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the race-sensitive admissions plan at the University of Texas at Austin. The Supreme Court ruled that the Appeals Court did not obtain sufficient information from the university as to whether the plan met the strict guidelines for a “narrowly tailored” plan as outlined in the 2003 Grutter decision.
Writing for the majority in Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin, Justice Kennedy stated, “The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.”
The good news for proponents of race-sensitive admissions is that after the decision affirmative action lives to see another day. The bad news for proponents of affirmative action is that universities are placed on notice that they must provide detailed justification for any affirmative action admissions program based on race. This may discourage some institutions from continuing with such programs.
Justice Thomas concurred in the majority decision but said he would have preferred to strike down Grutter. Justice Scalia said that the plaintiffs hadn’t asked for a review of Grutter, so the Court couldn’t go further than it did.
You can download the opinion by clicking here.