June 29, 2015

BIG NEWS: Important affirmative action case returns to the Supreme Court. Ilya Somin comments:

Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court chose to hear Fisher v. University of Texas, an important case challenging racial preferences in admissions at the University of Texas. The outcome is likely to have important implications for the future of affirmative action. . . .

It seems unlikely that the justices would have chosen to hear this case again, if a majority were satisfied with the Fifth Circuit’s ruling on remand. Most likely, the five more conservative justices decided to take it because they intend to overrule the Fifth Circuit and forcefully reiterate the requirement that judges must not defer to universities on the narrow tailoring issue. The Court could potentially expound on the need to avoid deference on the narrow-tailoring requirement in greater detail than it did in Fisher I, so as to reduce lower court judges’ room for discretion and prevent them from continuing to defer, as the Fifth Circuit essentially did in its post-remand decision. If that happens, supporters of racial preferences in admissions might end up worse off than they would have been if the Fifth Circuit had not chosen to be obstreperous after the remand, and had struck down the Texas program, as many expected it would.

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