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Supreme Court: University Admissions Can Use Race

post #1 of 7
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Supreme Court: University Admissions Can Use Race

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A closely divided U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) ruled on Monday that racial preferences can be used in university admission decisions, its first ruling on the important civil rights issue in 25 years.

post #2 of 7
And I'm thrilled that they voted "outside" of what Shrub supported...................
post #3 of 7
Every once in a while the newspaper reports good news
post #4 of 7

One thing that confuses me, though, is they keep reporting on the radio that it was a split decision, like yes for preferences for law school and no for undergraduate? Am I misunderstanding? Forgive me for not reading the link if it explains it clearly, but can someone explain what was the split? And is the split a contradiction of itself, IYKWIM?
post #5 of 7
From the opinion:

The Court defers to the Law School’s educa-tional judgment that diversity is essential to its educational mission. The Court’s scrutiny of that interest is no less strict for taking into account complex educational judgments in an area that lies primarily within the university’s expertise. See, e.g., Bakke, 438 U. S., at 319, n. 53 (opinion of Powell, J.). Attaining a diverse student body is at the heart of the Law School’s proper institutional mission, and its “good faith” is “presumed” absent “a showing to the contrary.” Id., at 318– 319. Enrolling a “critical mass” of minority students simply to assure some specified percentage of a particular group merely because of its race or ethnic origin would be patently unconstitutional. E.g., id., at 307. But the Law School defines its critical mass concept by reference to the substantial, important, and laudable educational benefits that di-versity is designed to produce, including cross-racial understanding and the breaking down of racial stereotypes.

Note, though, that the system upheld by the Court requires a highly individualized and subjective admissions process. While such a process may be quite feasible for institutions with a somewhat limited number of applicants, I wonder how it will translate to places like UC Berkeley that have tens of thousands of applicants for their undergraduate program each year.
post #6 of 7
On the different holdings for the law school and undergraduate admissions: you're right that the former's admissions policy was upheld while the undergraduate policy was struck down, I believe. As Marlena noted, the program that was upheld was subjective and highly individualized. By contrast, the undergraduate admissions process actually operated on a points system, where students needed 100 points for admission out of a possible 150, and students from certain minority groups received 20 points. The majority held, then, that a points system is unacceptable -- which does raise issues for large public institutions, which may be unable to undertake the more nuanced approach open to professional schools and smaller colleges.
post #7 of 7
Yup. Amy must've posted while I was in the process of posting. Mechanical point allocations, such as the one used by UMich undergrad, were rulled unconstitutional. Subjective, individualized consideration of race as one plus among many other potential plusses, on the other hand, was not considered unconstitutional.

O'Connor noted in the opinion that, perhaps in another 25 years, there likely should be no consideration of race at all in admissions. Presumably, then, the ills of racism should be corrected by then? I believe she is being rather optimistic.
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