In what many Supreme Court experts consider a surprise opinion, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the system of racial preferences used for admission at the University of Texas, Austin. In a confusing holding that significantly departs from his original holding in Fisher I, Justice Kennedy authored an opinion that largely defers to Universities and minimizes the role of the Courts. In doing so, the Court’s opinion will embolden Universities to engage in racial engineering.
CIR President Terry Pell reviewed the Court’s opinion for USA Today, pointing out that “in the absence of a Supreme Court willing to enforce a meaningful legal standard, schools will adopt ever more ambitious preferences.”
The programs like those at the University of Texas harm lower income students and unconstitutionally allow the school to select two or three preferred races at the expense of all others. As Pell explained,
“The Texas case shows just how far educators are willing to go. First, university officials said they needed diversity in every major and classroom, not just in the school as a whole. Then they said that a preference to benefit merely disadvantaged minority students was inadequate because it did not sufficiently boost the number of wealthy and accomplished minority students.”
“So instead of targeting low-income students across the board, Texas would prefer to focus exclusively on race, no matter how privileged. As Justice Alito noted in dissent, preferences for the privileged ‘is affirmative action gone wild.’”
The Supreme Court’s refusal to engage in meaningful review of state action will only encourage universities and other state actors to aggressively violate the rights promised in the Fourteenth Amendment.