Affirmative Action May Lose Place in College Admissions

More conservative court agrees to weigh in on racial preferences
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2012 12:35 PM CST
Affirmative Action May Lose Place in College Admissions
Seated: Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing are Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr., and Elena Kagan.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The Supreme Court has twice backed up the idea that colleges can take race into account in college admissions, but the third time might not be the charm for supporters of affirmative action. The court today agreed to hear a major case brought by a white student against the University of Texas; she says she was denied admission because of her race. Abigail Fisher also says her grades were better than those of many of the minority students admitted.

The case doesn't bode well for the principle of affirmative action because—as the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post all point out—the court is more conservative than it was the last time the issue came up, in 2003. Specifically, the author of that 5-4 decision, Sandra Day O'Connor, has been replaced by the more conservative Samuel Alito. What's more, Elena Kagan has recused herself from the new case. Arguments will begin in October, just ahead of the presidential election. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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