[Note — More decisions will be released Tuesday — check back here at 10 a.m.]

Full opinion embedded at bottom of post

Via ScotusBlog live blog:

10:14 Amy Howe: The opoinion by Kennedy. The Fifth Circuit is vacated and remanded.

10:15 Amy Howe: The holding is because the Fifth Circuit did not hold the university to the demanding burden of strict scrutiny articulated in Grutter and Bakke, its decision afffiming the district court’s grant of summary judgment was incorrect.

10:16 Amy Howe: There is one dissent. It is 7-1. Ginsburg dissents alone.

10:16 Amy Howe: There are separate concurring opinions by Scalia and Thomas. Kagan was recused.

10:17 Amy Howe: The dissent is only four pages.

10:17 Amy Howe: Justice Thomas says he would overrule Grutter.

10:18 Amy Howe: Justice Scalia’s concurrence is very brief. He says because the petitioner did not ask the Court to overrule Grutter, he joins the opinion of the Court in full.

10:18 Kali: Here is the opinion in Fisher: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-345_l5gm.pdf

10:20 Amy Howe: The majority seems to reaffirm that diversity is a compelling interest if only because that rule was not challenged by the plaintiffs in the case.

10:24 Amy Howe: Here’s the money quote: “The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.”

Quick take:

Nothing much has changed. The Court did not address the underlying issue of whether “educational benefits of diversity” continue to serve as a justification for race-based admissions decisions.

Majority Opinion (Kennedy) intro:

The parties asked the Court to review whether thejudgment below was consistent with “this Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003).” Pet. for Cert. i. The Court concludes that the Court of Appeals did not hold the Universityto the demanding burden of strict scrutiny articulatedin Grutter and Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U. S. 265, 305 (1978) (opinion of Powell, J.). Because the Court of Appeals did not apply the correct standard of strict scrutiny, its decision affirming the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the University was incorrect.That decision is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

Scalia Concurrance (in full):

I adhere to the view I expressed in Grutter v. Bollinger: “The Constitution proscribes government discrimination on the basis of race, and state-provided education is noexception.” 539 U. S. 306, 349 (2003) (opinion concurringin part and dissenting in part). The petitioner in this case did not ask us to overrule Grutter’s holding that a “compelling interest” in the educational benefits of diversity canjustify racial preferences in university admissions. Tr. of Oral Arg. 8–9. I therefore join the Court’s opinion in full.

Thomas concurrence (1st paragraph only):

I join the Court’s opinion because I agree that the Court of Appeals did not apply strict scrutiny to the Universityof Texas at Austin’s (University) use of racial discrimination in admissions decisions. Ante, at 1. I write separately to explain that I would overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003), and hold that a State’s use of race inhigher education admissions decisions is categorically prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause.

Thomas went on to challenge the underlying issue:

Unfortunately for the University, the educational benefits flowing from student body diversity—assuming theyexist—hardly qualify as a compelling state interest. In deed, the argument that educational benefits justify racialdiscrimination was advanced in support of racial segregation in the 1950’s, but emphatically rejected by this Court.And just as the alleged educational benefits of segregationwere insufficient to justify racial discrimination then, see Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954), the alleged educational benefits of diversity cannot justify racial discrimination today.

Fisher v U Texas Supreme Court Opinion


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