The Supreme Court has sent a Texas case on race-based college admissions back to a lower court for another look. The court’s 7-1 decision Monday leaves unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions.
NewsHour regular Marcia Coyle spoke with us shortly after the ruling, outside of the Supreme Court, and gave us her initial reaction. Listen to audio from her phone call or read the brief transcript below. She’ll be live on our show later tonight for a deeper look at the justices’ decisions.
The court has just issued 5 decisions, this morning including one that was long awaited and anxiously watched by civil rights groups, and that’s Fisher v. University of Texas.
At issue was whether the university’s use of race as a factor, one of several factors, in its admissions policy, was constitutional. Well, the court today in a 7-1 ruling sent the case back to the lower federal appellate court because it said that court had not done the proper job of looking at whether the university’s use of race was “narrowly tailored” to achieve diversity in the university and in particular in classrooms throughout the university.
Narrow tailoring is one of the requirements that the court imposes, under what we call “strict scrutiny” when government entities use racial classification. So, this is really something that’s a victory for both sides.
The young woman who challenged the university’s use of race can go back and get another shot at challenging it. But civil rights groups as well win here because the court did not as feared go backward on whether universities can use race in higher ededucation in order to achieve diversity. The court said back in 2003 that that is a compelling government interest. And the court reiterated this morning, in the opinion by Justice Kennedy, that it was standing by that decision from 2003 as well as even an earlier decision in which the court first upheld racial diversity as a compelling interest in higher education.
For more reaction on the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin ruling, watch tonight’s PBS NewsHour and follow along with our live blog below:
KLRU, our PBS member station in Austin, Texas, produced this documentary, “Admissions On Trial: Seven Decades of Race and Higher Ed” on the background and context behind the Fisher v. University of Texas case, and how universities currently use race in the admissions process.
Watch Admissions On Trial: Seven Decades of Race and Higher Ed on PBS. See more from KLRU.