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Affirmative Action Limited under Tougher Scrutiny by the Court
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The Supreme Court has been skeptical about Affirmative Action for a long time. Now colleges have been limited in their use of affirmative programs that demonstrate racial preference. In their applicant acceptance process, before a college can use affirmative action, they would have to show there are “no workable race neutral alternatives,” according to USA TODAY.

Justice Kennedy gave the decision of the court, suggesting that affirmative action would be used as a last resort only to create diversity within public schools. This new consideration may force colleges to bear a tougher burden in justifying its usage in the future.


The justices did not fully eliminate schools’ ability to consider an applicant’s race, however this 7-1 decision will undeniably have long repercussions.

A case from the University of Texas at Austin challenged the admission policy, which is race sensitive and utilized affirmative action. The court declined to decide and instead is having the lower court hear the case again. Ultimately the University had to prove that affirmative action was its only recourse to create a diverse student body.

Justice Kennedy gave the opinion, “Strict scrutiny does not permit a court to accept a school’s assertion that its admissions process uses race in a permissible way without a court giving close analysis to the evidence of how that process works in practice. The university must prove that the means chosen by the university to attain diversity are narrowly tailored to that goal.”

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Strict scrutiny by the court is a fearsome thing to behold. When this usually occurs, the entire nation will see the narrowest parts of the law very well defined. In creating precedence, no matter the outcome, the decision is cemented, and the universities and public institutions will face the reality that the court issues one way or another. This decision took 13 pages and more than 8 months to decide but remains unremarkable, as it keeps the court in between both extremes.

Whether or not any harsh changes will be made in the admissions process is hard to truly consider as Justices Scalia and Thomas stand against affirmative action. They are likely to declare it unconstitutional. However, none of the other Justices stood with them, so in this case, the court is divided.


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