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Justices Seek 'Strict Scrutiny' In Affirmative Action Case

Publication Date: 
June 24, 2013
Source: 
National Public Radio (NPR) - All Things Considered
Author: 
Nina Totenberg

Professor Michael McConnell spoke with NPR's Nina Totenberg about the Supreme Court's decision to send Fisher v. University of Texas back to the lower courts and what the decision may mean for universities going forward. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has surprised just about everyone with its decision on affirmative action in higher education. The surprise was an apparent compromise that leaves affirmative action programs in tact for now but subjects them to a more rigorous review by the courts.

By a 7-to-1 vote, the court largely sidestepped making what could have been a sweeping ruling in a test case from Texas. Instead, the court sent the case back to the lower courts, with instructions to conduct a more thorough factual inquiry. The high court's decision is likely to spawn more challenges like the one in Texas, but it remains unclear how much further litigation will change the status quo.

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Stanford's McConnell supports that view, but only partially. "The court has made it significantly more difficult for universities to justify the explicit use of race in their affirmative action plans," he says.