The court voted 7 to 1 to send the University of Texas’s race-conscious admissions plan back for further judicial view, and told the lower court to apply strict scrutiny, the toughest judicial evaluation of whether a government’s action is allowed.
“A university must make a showing that its plan is narrowly tailored to achieve the only interest that this Court has approved in this context: the benefits of a student body diversity that ‘encompasses a . . . broad array of qualifications and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a single though important element,’ ” wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
The decision could spawn challenges of race-conscious admissions decisions elsewhere, but stopped short of ruling out the use of race, as affirmative action opponents had urged.
The ruling likely came of sharp disagreements among the justices that are absent from Kennedy’s 13-page opinion. The case was argued in October.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the only dissenter, saying the lower courts already had performed the tasks the Supreme Court set out. Justice Clarence Thomas continued to note his belief that affirmative action programs are unconstitutional.
For more on the ruling from the Washington Post, please click here.