Advocates of the consideration of race in college admissions feared that the U.S. Supreme Court would reverse its previous decisions and ban affirmative action in the case of Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin. But Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote in favor of the University of Texas being allowed to continue to use race as a factor in trying to achieve a diverse student body. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy stated that “considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.”
While affirming the university’s right to use racial considerations, Justice Kennedy warned that “the Court’s affirmance of the University’s admissions policy today does not necessarily mean the University may rely on that same policy without refinement. It is the University’s ongoing obligation to engage in constant deliberation and continued reflection regarding its admissions policies.”
After the decision was announced, President Obama said that “I’m pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the basic notion that diversity is an important value in our society and this country should provide a high quality education to all our young people regardless of their background. We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everybody. And that’s what was upheld today.”
As a result of this decision, other universities across the country will also continue to be able to consider race in admissions decisions. However, the Supreme Court ruling in Fisher v. the University of Texas will have no impact on public colleges and universities in states that have banned race-sensitive admissions. These include California, Florida, Washington, and Michigan.
The full Supreme Court decision may be downloaded by clicking here.