As Ross noted, with today’s ruling from the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas, nothing really changed. Writing for the 7-1 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals did not apply the “strict scrutiny” necessary to assess the university’s admissions policies regarding race. As such, the majority decided to send back this case to the lower courts.
According to SCOTUSBlog, this was the money-quote:
“The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.”
In short, there was no game-changer for affirmative action today.
However, the Supreme Court will be considering another case in its next session that could set a precedent for affirmative action. Specifically, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action centers on whether or not Michigan violated “the Equal Protection Clause by amending its constitution to prohibit race- and sex-based discrimination or preferential treatment in public-university admissions decisions.” The amendment referred to was a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative that extended beyond public education to also include government employment.
As with Fisher, Justice Elena Kagan will be recused because of her work on the case before becoming Justice.