High court compromises on college affirmative action

Robert Barnes / The Washington Post /

Published Jun 25, 2013 at 05:00AM

The Supreme Court brokered a compromise on affirmative action in college admissions Monday, telling courts to look more closely at the justifications for such programs but keeping alive for now the use of race to achieve diversity.

The court voted 7 to 1 to send the University of Texas’s race-conscious admissions plan back for further judicial view, and told the lower court to apply strict scrutiny, the toughest judicial evaluation of whether a government’s action is allowed.

“A university must make a showing that its plan is narrowly tailored to achieve the only interest that this Court has approved in this context: the benefits of a student body diversity that ‘encompasses a ... broad array of qualifications and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a single though important element,’” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The decision could spawn challenges of race-conscious admissions decisions elsewhere, but stopped short of ruling out the use of race, as affirmative action opponents had urged.

Generic drugs — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that generic drug manufacturers could not be sued by patients who claim that drugs they took were defectively designed. The decision is a significant victory for the generic drug industry, but further narrows the recourse for people who are injured by such drugs.

Employment — In two decisions Monday, the Supreme Court made it harder for workers to prove they had suffered employment discrimination. One ruling narrows the definition of what constitutes a supervisor in racial and sexual harassment cases, while the other adopts a tougher standard for workers to prove they had faced illegal retaliation for complaining about discrimination.

Recess appointments — The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will decide next term whether President Obama exceeded his authority by making appointments while the Senate was on break.

— From wire reports

comments powered by Disqus