By a 7-to-1 decision Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a case involving
race and the University of Texas at Austin's admissions program back to
an appeals court for more review. Following Monday's decision, affirmative action
programs at the university or other neighboring schools will not have to be tweaked. But the decision may result in more court challenges of college admission systems in the country, reported the New York Times.
According to the majority opinion, the lower court did not use "strict scrutiny" and look hard enough at the school's affirmative action policy before endorsing it.
In the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, Abigail Fisher, who is white, alleged that her application to the University of Texas at Austin was rejected due to her race. The school has a race-neutral standard of admitting top students from local schools as well as a race-conscious program.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority and said courts looking at affirmative action programs have to
“verify that it is necessary for a university to use race to achieve the
educational benefits of diversity” requiring “a careful judicial
inquiry into whether a university could achieve sufficient diversity
without using racial classifications.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, and wrote "I would not return this case for a second look" because "the
University reached the reasonable, good-faith judgment that supposedly
race-neutral initiatives were insufficient to achieve, in appropriate
measure, the educational benefits of student body diversity."
Elena Kagan recused herself. The New York Times reports that she worked on the case as a solicitor general.