The Supreme Court of the United States heard one of the most important cases of the new term this past Wednesday with college admissions Affirmative Action up for debate. The case pits liberals against conservatives. The liberal view is that Affirmative Action should stand, that it enables underserved and underrepresented minorities to succeed regardless of their circumstances. The conservative view is that Affirmative Action is a discriminatory policy — that it’s a policy that promotes racial preference — and is therefore unlawful. The decision, one that can have a drastic impact on highly selective college admissions, may all rest in the hands of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy, regarded as the swing vote (although Justice Kagan has recused herself from this case due to her work as Solicitor General under President Obama), could have a mighty impact on the college admissions process, one that reverberates for decades to come.
According to “The Washington Post” article on the Affirmative Action case, “The decision will probably come down to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The longtime justice has agreed in theory that campus diversity is the kind of compelling government interest that can sometimes license an otherwise forbidden consideration of race.” But it is worth noting that Justice Kennedy has never voted in favor of Affirmative Action in any case that has come before the high court. Kennedy’s vote is all the more important this time around because the last time Affirmative Action was debated at the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (a liberal) penned the majority decision. This time, O’Connor is no longer on the court and in her place is Justice Samuel Alito, a judge who has a history of opposing racial preference in admissions decisions. Because of this flip of seats, Kennedy has quite a bit of power (just as he will should marriage equality be debated before the Supreme Court).
Do you think Affirmative Action should stand? Do you think changes should be made to this policy? Do you think the University of Texas at Austin will win the case or will Abigail Fisher claim victory? What will the impact of this decision be on highly selective college admissions? Let us know all of your thoughts on the matter by posting below!